“To be honest, before I began my research, I had no idea what the Kelly Bag was – or the luxury brand behind it,” said artist Keith Edmier, whose show, Regeneratrix at Petzel Gallery is on display until June 20th.
The concept of his New York solo exhibition began with a simple mission: he was interested in the correlation between ancient myths in contemporary culture as well as the synergy between blending keepsakes that are born through the marriage of art and fashion. “I became interested in linking Greek and Roman myths and tales to real people in the 20th Century and in doing so, there were a multitude of relationships that lead me to Grace Kelly,” he says.
“The one thing that I was most interested in was the god Hermes – which drove me to the fashion house responsible for its fame. The minute you type ‘Hermes’ into Google, the Birkin Bag appears…and from there, I found the Kelly Bag, which beforehand, I knew absolutely nothing about,” he said. “Very quickly I became aware of the story behind the Kelly Bag and the myth that she used the bag to shield her growing pregnant belly from the paparazzi. I liked this idea of mythology and blending real people and falsified stories”.
The concept of ‘birthing’ has been seen in his previous works, but there’s something unique about the Kelly Bag that provided a sense of creative exploration for the artist – which also happened to involve multiple hours exploring online. “I liked how the bag provided a sort of vessel; a reliquary of sorts. The show contains many reliquaries for real things – these frozen moments in time. I wanted to make a Kelly Bag in glass, but first I had to buy one. Though there was no shortage of time spent analyzing various bags, shapes, sizes, leathers, skins, hardware and leather types, the one the artist bought (which in turn was recreated for his show in transparent glass), was a smooth and supple black Kelly Bag that’s “the largest size possible and dates back to no earlier than the 90’s” says the artist.
While his actual glass reproduction will stay within the walls of Petzel Gallery until the end of June, iterations of the actual Kelly Bag that he scoured (and the Birkin Bags he researched for that matter), can always be found, for sale at the Christie’s Handbag Shop. And if you happen to stumble upon one while browsing that’s made of glass, store it somewhere safe. According to our experts, a glass cast Kelly Bag may be the rarest of them all.
Main image courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York.
Keith Edmier, The Kelly Bag (Salmacis), 2015. Glass, dental acrylic, polyurethane, acrylic paint, and silk on limestone base. 11.5 x 19 x 12 inches, 29.2 x 48.3 x 30.5 cm.