Balenciaga Masterful Black

De Theatermachine provided the lighting design and execution for the exhibition “Balenciaga- Meesterlijk Zwart” at the Kunstmuseum in Denhaag.

Photo: Mike Bink

Masterful black

The beautiful black sculptural dresses were brought to Kunstmuseum Den Haag by curator Madelief Hohé. Exhibition designer Maarten Spruyt took on the challenge of making all the black come alive. With his spatial design, he ensured that the spaces did full justice to the black of the dresses.

Lighting Design

Maarten and Madelief saw very quickly that light would play an important role in the exhibition. The black dresses were only allowed a maximum of 50 lux. And a large number of dresses had to be placed in display cases by order of the lender. At this exhibition, Maarten also placed a number of dresses loose in the space so that you can walk around the dresses from all sides.

For these reasons, additional time was allocated for lighting design and implementation. The Theatermachine worked with Tiago Rosado to create 3d drawings. This allowed us to see very accurately what light angles were and were not feasible. Sometimes a display case could slide a little bit and many times additional light rail was installed at our request.

Balenciaga loved black immensely. In his opinion, the lack of color makes you less distracted. This makes you look more at the sculpture of the dresses. Special details such as sheen, texture, density, embroidery techniques, pleats and seams are still given full attention in black with the play of light.

500 shades of black

During the performance, the Theatermachine played with minimal color shades in the light. Not only are the dresses were light exposed but also the walls, often with a slight gradient.

This allowed us to still create depth and contrast in the relatively dark spaces. Which helped the visitor’s eye to see all the details in the fabrics and an even deeper black.

It was a treat to be able to light Balenciaga’s extraordinary dresses.

The exhibition Masterly Black will be on view until March 05, 2023.

Cast & Creatives

Idea and concept: Madelief Hohé
Design: Maarten Spruyt

Lighting design: Isabel Nielen, Benno Barends
Thanks to the technical team of the
Art Museum The Hague