There’s no doubt it’s been a big year for Helmut Lang. From the launch of Re-Editions (a celebration of the brand’s most iconic heritage pieces) to it’s new design residency program, kicked off this past fashion week with Hood By Air’s Shayne Oliver to its latest exciting initiative Seen By: The Artists Series. Lead by Editor-In-Residence Isabella Burley, The Artists Series. is Burley’s passion project, one where just the selection process spanned over six months to curate. The year-long program (one featured artist each month) aims to re-conceptualize the cult artworks of twelve visual artists onto limited-edition posters, t-shirts, home goods and other special products.
For the series first installment, Helmut launches with Walter Pfeiffer, most famously known for his provocative portraits from the ‘70s and ‘80s. “I love the idea of selecting works that people may not be so familiar with. Walter Pfeiffer’s installment kind of sets a precedent for this mentality,” says Burley who chose three rare images from his work during “the budget years” as Pfeiffer likes to reference. Early in his career he “ was forced to shoot in black-and-white for a very practical reason: it was cheaper. All part of the story, that made his work raw—that drew Burley to these pieces and him as the first artist for this series. “There is something very impromptu about each of the images—they were all shot on young men he cast on the streets of Zurich and the whip was found at a fair ground, but for me they have become cult artworks to really treasure,” says Burley.
And this is only the beginning. As this series continues, we’ll see works from a variety of artists, from Carrie Mae Weems to Leigh Ledare, to Peter Hujar to Martine Syms—all curated to evoke the brand’s legacy and influence. “The first time I discovered Helmut Lang as a brand was through the Jenny Holzer fragrance campaigns and Bruce Webber's images of the late Louise Bourgeois. I must've been a teenager and remember being so blown away by the fact it challenged the boundaries that traditionally contained art, image-making and advertising. It was incredibly exciting to me,” explained Burley who seeks to reignite this very dialogue with the brand again in this new series with a lens that captures the next generation of artists. “This project is as much about uncovering and recontextualizing older cult art works as it is about identifying contemporary art works that will gain the same cult status in years to come.”