When we think of mannequins, we usually envisage lines of them in shop windows, artfully arranged to display the latest fashions being offered by a particular designer or clothing line. The mannequin however, especially the female mannequin, has long been a feature of the art world as well.
Since iconic artists Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg all began their careers as window dressers it is perhaps not too much of a surprise that mannequins found their way into many of their later art works. They incorporated both the female mannequin and the male mannequin into a number of their pieces although the end result was often a far cry from the way wholesale mannequins bought at a mannequin store usually appear.
Earlier artists embraced the mannequin as a muse as well. Photographer Man Ray used both a headless mannequin and various disembodied models in a series of photographs designed to represent the horrors of war, while surrealist Salvador Dali brought them into his weird and wild world as well.
As these prominent artists gave some credibility to the 'lowly' mannequin they also opened the door for those still working as window dressers to be considered artists in their own right. Some of them like Robert Currie and Candie Price- Pratts, will go down in history for the elaborate tableau they have created behind the glass windows of some of the world's most famous stores.
As a more recent example, Simon Doonan, who has been creative director of the world famous Barney's store in New York since 1986, is in the 21st century considered to be a fashion expert, appearing on VH1 and in red carpet run down shows even though the models he has worked with throughout his career have been mannequins rather than the flesh and blood creatures he critiques on television.
These days mannequins come in all shapes, sizes and colors and such things as the torso mannequin are regaining popularity as designers seek a way to accurately and attractively display their work without adding the distraction of a recognizable face or features. Wherever mannequins evolve in the future though there is little doubt that they will continue to feature prominently in the art world as well as in the windows of your local mall.