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Old Master Paintings

Fashion Designer Jan Taminiau Curates Old Master Paintings from the SØR Rusche Collection

By Martine Lambrechtsen, Deputy Director, Specialist Old Master Paintings
As Jan Taminiau prepares to exhibit paintings from the SØR Rusche Collection in his Amsterdam store, the Dutch fashion designer tells us what inspires him about Old Masters and how they inform his designs.
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Jan Taminiau in his store.

When did your passion for Old Master Paintings begin?

It began as an early child, because my grandparents were antique dealers. This passion has grown throughout the years.

Can you tell us about the works you chose from the SØR Rusche collection and what attracted you to them?

I’ve always loved elegance and feel very connected to nature; they are both always present in my work and life. The work by Adam van Breen depicts an elegant party with people in beautiful clothes surrounded by nature.

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Adam van Breen, An elegant company banqueting on a terrace. Estimate: £60,000-£80,000.

You’ve recently launched your first ready-to-wear collection, TAMINIAU focusing on making your designs more accessible while remaining sustainable. Can you tell us what inspired you to do this?

I’ve been dressing beautiful women for special occasions for many years, but I also wanted to accompany them in their everyday lives. If while doing so, I could also contribute to looking after nature and the magnificent world we live in, why not do it?

What do you have in your own collection and what are your guiding principles when acquiring – or simply interacting with – a piece of art?

I love admiring beautiful pieces of art, but I’m not the collector type or especially interested in possessions; that role is already taken by my partner, who is a great art collector. Interacting happens all the time. I work with images, and art – in all of its forms – is one of my main sources of inspiration.

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Jan Taminiau's designs.

A lot of your couture work features very intricate beading and embroidery. These are things that were often depicted in Old Master paintings to demonstrate the artist’s technical skill, but also to symbolise the wealth and status of the sitter. How do you draw influence from looking at works like this?

It’s very inspiring to see the combination of mastering and exploration. I always apply this in my work, and try and go one step further. Create a language.

What can the craftsmen, designers and artists of today learn from looking at historical sources?

Everything. Good art will always inspire. It’s a timeless source of living inspiration.

You have a long-standing passion for Old Masters and in particular Trompe l’oeil paintings. Where do you encounter these kind of works, and what is it that inspires you?

In our daily lives we always have trompe l’oeil settings; we just have to observe closely. I love playing with different settings for objects, but regarding my clothes, I use embroidery, dying, painting and other fabric manipulations like pleating to create trompe l’oeil effects.

Your couture designs have been exhibited in the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. Do you think of your own work as art, and in what ways do you think art and fashion are connected?

I like to think my work is art, because art itself is a main source of inspiration. Fashion for me is another language in art.

Can you talk a little bit about your creative process throughout the working day?

The creating process never ends. I generally arrive to the atelier and obviously deal with the everyday matters, but I’m very observant and find sources of inspiration in everything in my daily life, mixing them with past references, antique techniques, craftsmanship and nature among others.

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Cornelis Norbertus Gysbrechts, Trompe l'œil with open cabinet. Estimate: £40,000-£60,000.

Besides Old Masters are there also contemporary works which you look to for pleasure, inspiration and creative dialogue?

Constantly. Lately I find the copper “We are the people” sculptures by Danh Vo very inspiring, as well as the work of Montez Magno.

So would you say your taste in art has changed over time, and if so, how?

Not changed, but evolved. The more you see, the more your knowledge grows, as well as the enrichment you get from discovering and experiencing other cultures.

Are there any future projects you are currently working on that you can share with us?

I am designing costumes for a new opera, among a million other things. We’ve just opened our first international store in Madrid, and a pop-up store in Amsterdam.

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