In exotic gardens and cool swimming pools, at picnics, countryhouse and cocktail parties, at home on the sofa in moments of domestic intimacy or having tea with girlfriends – Kelly Beeman‘s elegant long-limbed figures lead their lives in dream apparel. But her beauties are not just models for the latest creations of big-name fashion designers. They are the protagonists of Beeman’s profuse fantasy world brimming with childhood memories of Oklahoma and subtle nods and tributes to interior design, architecture, music and literature. Beeman’s sources of inspiration are lookbooks and catwalk shots, from which she borrows an elaborately embroidered blouson, striped bell-bottoms, a lace Empire dress, a youthful biker jacket, playful silver earrings. She doesn’t just produce fashion illustrations, she creates a meaningful world far beyond the confines of the fashion scene.
An autodidact, even as a child Beeman drew and painted and played piano with a passion, hence the recurrent sheet music and piano amongst the profusion of details in her pictures. After studying sociology at Hunter College in New York, Beeman worked for several years in Bolivia and Argentina. Her background in sociology informs how she thinks about her artwork: it’s about the relationship between culture and fashion, a fundamental aspect of every society. “Dressing” her subjects is a way for Beeman to create characters, stories and cultural context and explore their significance in a world of self-display. She doesn’t see herself as a social critic, however, but as both artist and fashion illustrator. Her inspirations, she says, are the New Objectivity, especially Christian Schad and Otto Dix, graphic works of the Vienna Secession as well as Classic and Byzantine art.