Art & Culture

Points Of View: FJ Baur X Sandro Kopp

Over 100 eyes return the viewer’s gaze when standing in front of FJ Baur’s and Sandro Kopp’s dress sculpture. A collaboration by two exceptional German talents that intertwines the subjects of fashion and visual art in an effortless manner. Exclusively for L’Officiel Austria, they present new approaches to their creative process.
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While FJ Baur and Sandro Kopp both spent their childhood in Germany, they have lived and worked all over the world for many years. The “dress sculpture” is their rst artistic collaboration.

As a person of “pop culture and balance“, FJ Baur often plays with fashion, structure, texture and, last but not least, with the expectations of his audience when presenting his avant-garde work. Oversized bubbles, artistically designed busts and brightly coloured, knitted objects allow you to immerse yourself in other worlds and reawaken a certain surrealism that nevertheless remains accessible and unmistakably positive. Whether as part of the Miami Art Week in December 2019, at the Upper Austrian gallery Schloss Parz, or during a shoot at the Semper Depot in Vienna – the abstraction of Baur’s art doesn’t always appear to fit in, but ultimately manages to do so, in a very successful manner, we might add. 

Art or commerce 

As an answer to the question, whether fashion is always art, he refers to Thierry Mugler, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and the almost forgotten fashion designer Rose Bertin who set the tone of fashion in France in the 18th Century with her extravagant designs. Baur clearly perceives their work as art “from the moment they were created to their presentation”. A trait that can currently not be expected of everyday fashion. For FJ Baur, it is not just the design itself that defines the work as art, but also the person who wears it: “Daphne Guinness, Peggy Guggenheim or the early days of Lady Gaga – there is nothing like presenting fashion in the right light and with the correct attitude”. He compares this sense of staging to the way that paintings are presented in museums, to the choice of light, space and the interior in which they are set. 

Near and far 

Spaciality is a topic that Sandro Kopp also deals with intensively. He first attained fame with his extraordinary series of “Skype Portraits” (2008-2012), amongst other works, in which well-known greats from the art and culture scene were cast as his models: Wes Anderson, REM singer Michael Stipe, James Meek and the actors Frances McDormand, John C. Reilly, Waris Ahluwalia and Tilda Swinton. Kopp not only worked with the tension between distance and proximity, but also with surface and dimension. In this series any movement functions as a kind of surrogate for the missing “live” three-dimensionality. The (un-)reliability of technology bestowed them with yet another facet: some images were pixelated beyond recognition and thus gained an almost impressionistic quality. 

Ulterior motive 

Kopp deals with a broad spectrum when it comes to painting. From Rembrandt to Lisa Yuskavage, he always uses new and exciting approaches as inspiration. Lucian Freud and David Hockney in particular shaped him as an artist, not least because of Hockney’s concept of seeing things not only physically, but also psychologically. It implies that more than mere contemplation flows into a portrait: “When you look at a person you know and love, you automatically perceive a different kind of beauty”. This approach is clearly noticeable in Kopp’s works. The eyes that appear on the dress sculpture were originally derived from an extensive series that was successfully exhibited last year under the title “Meyecelium”, at the Venetian Palazzo Grimani. 


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Smile with your eyes: Their dress sculpture for L’Offciel Austria was photographed and staged by Hilde van Mas, who likes to portray mobility and exibility in a humorous manner.

Attention to detail 

Every single eye belongs to a friend or family member and was painted live by Sandro Kopp. The location also plays an important role to him: “this snapshot in time shows a connectedness – not only with the person, but also with the location”. Many were created while traveling, using rooms and gardens as well as London’s Regent’s Park and Soho House as pop-up studios. This approach makes the eyes an even more distinctive feature: on closer inspection, some of the artists themselves or the immediate surroundings are reflected in the iris. “If you take the time to look into each one, they are like small windows into different atmospheres”. 

Common denominator 

As different as FJ Baur and Sandro Kopp’s approaches and implementations are, their collaboration was a harmonious one. It started with FJ Baur’s artistic interest in Kopp’s work. He was “fascinated from the start by his the balance he achieved between classic painting and the installation of new media”. However, getting to know each other was a long time coming. Baur had often commuted between Marbella and Vienna, while Kopp had been living in a small town in Scotland for some time. Finally, they met in Vienna, where first plans and thoughts for their collaboration emerged during a relaxed evening, made up of cooking together, talking about childhood idols and their shared love for nail polish. What followed was an “exciting process”, which was largely carried out via Whatsapp, since the shape of the dress could change from start to finish depending on the eye portrait and the placement of the individual images. One of the eyes is FJ Baur’s, who is now immortalized within the dress sculpture. 

New forms of the creative process 

In times of social distancing, a collaboration like this is all the more important and meaningful because it shows that great things can be created at a distance. Or as FJ Baur puts it, “The dress showed me how wonderful it can be to work together. Something beautiful is created, even if close proximity is not a given”.

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Close-up: Van Mas is also responsible for the portraits of Sandro Kopp (on the left) and FJ Baur (on the right) - she used Skype to stage the two artists.


Photo: Hilde Van Mas

Production: Christoph Steiner

Model: Kamilla @Stella Models

Photo assistant: Flora Mayrhofer

 Location: f6 – The Open Factory


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