A couple months back, I asked AnneLaure Mais, the French designer behind Musier Paris, what home-good item she was hoping to procure next for her apartment. “A bust,” she said immediately. “I’m looking for the perfect plaster bust.” Why? “I don’t know,” she said. “It’s typical in old-fashioned French apartments to see a bust on the fireplace. But I have no idea why I want one now.”
Mais, it turns out, is not the only one with a sudden affection for the ancient, waist-up statues. French model Fiona Zanetti recently posted a selfie in front of her dresser mirror; a foot-tall plaster bust lurked on the dresser. The Brooklyn shop Sincerely, Tommy currently has two neck-up busts for sale, one made of coral, the other of stone. Picture Room, a gallery-slash-shop in Brooklyn Heights, will begin selling bust sconces in the fall. The Wing’s new location in Washington, D.C., features wallpaper printed entirely with Joana Avillez’s illustrated busts of accomplished women, like Julia Lathrop and Patsy Mink. And Glossier’s New York showroom features a three-foot-tall bust, lovingly referred to by employees as “our fine lady,” flanked by very on-trend anthurium flowers (“the ‘It’ flower for our feminist moment,” according to T).
This newfound predilection for busts (like the sudden popularity of the, let’s face it, very vaginal anthurium flower) has feminist overtones (all of the busts I’ve spotted, I should mention here, have been of women), but the trend also seems a result of the fact that busts are so aggressively old-fashioned that they feel new again, especially when held against the saturation of mid-century-modern everything. Picture Room owner Sandeep Salter has another theory: She thinks the trend has to do with the internet. “For me it’s romanticism and classicism,” she says. “But more generally, I think it has to do with the current popularity of digitally collaging a mix of historical references with internet imagery — think gridded spaces decorated with ferns, Grecian busts, and California tiling. I think it signals an opulence of a bygone era — Versace meets Versaille.” She first noticed the bust trend at the Johannes Vogt Gallery, when the artist Mac Horowitz, known for his video and web-based work, showed a pair of busts colored with neon oil pastels surrounded by glazed ceramics and artwork inspired by The Transformers. Avillez, for her part, said the idea for the wallpaper at The Wing had to do with paying homage to admirable women, but in a more budget-friendly way than the Romans might’ve done it: “They weren’t going to commission a marble artist to carve dozens of busts,” she said. “So Audrey [Gelman] had the idea to do it in a drawing instead.”
Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the role the perennially popular French Cire Trudon bust candles played in 2018’s Bust Revival. But for those looking for busts that make an impact, they’re just too subtle a statement. “I did buy a wax one from Trudon,” said Mais. “But, not perfect. I’m still looking.”
Busts you can buy
Diana of Versailles here is made of real crushed marble, bonded with “museum-quality resin.”
She is merely three inches tall.
“Your guests will be impressed by your taste in art upon seeing this lovely cement woman statue,” says the description. Well put!
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