Bottega Veneta’s Visionary Creative Director Tomas Maier Transforms Beijing’s Ullens Center

The exhibition celebrates Maier's dynamic collaborations with artists.

Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier at
Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier at "The Art of Collaboration," on view at Beijing's Ullens Center. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

If the crowds at Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art seemed particularly well-dressed on June 8, it was for good reason: The museum was celebrating “The Art of Collaboration,” a new photography exhibition spearheaded by Tomas Maier, the creative director of Italian fashion house Bottega Veneta.

Maier explained to artnet News that “The Art of Collaboration” project came about naturally. For each seasonal campaign since joining the company in 2001, the creative director has teamed up with contemporary artists such as Annie Leibovitz, Ryan McGinley, Nan Goldin, Jürgen Teller, and Robert Longo to create dramatic imagery featuring the fashion house’s current collection. Last year, Bottega Veneta released a hefty tome of over 1,000 photos featuring its collaborations with artists. Maier told us that photographers have always been among his greatest inspirations.

Bottega Veneta's "The Art of Collaboration" on view at Beijing's Ullens Center. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

Bottega Veneta’s “The Art of Collaboration” on view at Beijing’s Ullens Center. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

“I have been collecting photography for a long time,” he told artnet News at the Ullens Center opening. When he started at Bottega Veneta, Maier saw his chance to “create ad campaigns differently,” by working “with art photographers, instead of fashion photographers.”

Nan Goldin.

Nan Goldin.

Championing artists over fashion insiders has always been a part of Maier’s ethos, even if it is an unpopular position at times. “You look at a piece of abstract art and it’s a white canvas,” he told John Colapinto at the New Yorker in a 2011 interview. “And it’s just, like, a line, and somebody standing next to you says, ‘I really could do that,” he told Colapinto, rolling his eyes. “Actually, no.”

Bottega Veneta's "The Art of Collaboration" on view at Beijing's Ullens Center. Courtesy of Xiao Liang.

Bottega Veneta’s “The Art of Collaboration” on view at Beijing’s Ullens Center. Courtesy of Xiao Liang.

Bottega Veneta, which turns 50 this year, has seen unprecedented growth since Maier took the creative helm 15 years ago. Under his stewardship, and his groundbreaking vision, the company has been transformed into one of the most successful brands in the industry. He is continually praised for bringing an artistic edge to his extraordinary designs.

Prager Alex_13 300

Alex Prager.

“It is great to be able to have a show here,” said Maier noting that Bottega Veneta has been involved with sponsoring young contemporary Chinese photographers for about three or four years now. “I think it is a good fit to bring all these artists to this beautiful museum.”

Bottega Veneta's "The Art of Collaboration" on view at Beijing's Ullens Center. Courtesy of Xiao Liang.

Bottega Veneta’s “The Art of Collaboration” on view at Beijing’s Ullens Center. Courtesy of Xiao Liang.

 

“The Art of Collaboration” will be on view at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing through June 28, 2016. 

Additional reporting by Xiao Liang.


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