Is Eckhaus Latta’s Show at the Whitney a Very Stylish Scam?

Eckhaus Latta’s new show at the Whitney Museum of American Art — “Eckhaus Latta: Possessed” — is the museum’s first fashion-themed exhibition since Andy Warhol’s 1997 show. Considering the work of Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta often blurs the line between art and commercialism, it’s a perfect label to bring fashion back to the Whitney.

The exhibition is a functioning retail space where you can purchase any of the clothing on display (aka the art) for anywhere between $24 and $7,200. Pieces available for purchase range from plastic grocery bags to jeans, sweaters to socks, all arranged pristinely on the first floor of the museum. The exhibit is free and open to the public, so you’ll save some money if you end up dropping cash on a Whitney x Eckhaus piece.

The exhibit is divided, more or less, into three sections. First, there’s an entrance illuminated by lightboxes featuring models wearing the label. Next, the second section combines the exhibition and retail aspect of the show where, luckily, you’re allowed to touch the art. Finally, the last part of the show is a dark room with a Big Brother mood, a room that houses security TV monitors that are meant to signify the role of surveillance in today’s shopping spaces. The TVs combine footage from Eckhaus Latta’s LA store along with other stores that carry the label and a live stream of the retail space operating just outside the room.

Fashionista writer Whitney Bauck wrote about the experience, wondering if the exhibit functioned as a very masterful scam.

If Eckhaus Latta walks the line between democratic and elitist, inclusive and exclusive in this exhibition, that’s just one more connection the designers have to their predecessor Warhol, who replicated some of his own works as if they were cheap prints while selling others as one-offs for hundreds of millions of dollars.

You can check out the exhibit for yourself, running through Oct. 8, 2018.


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