On top of being an art form in and of itself, denim often inspires creatives with its rich history and unique elements. Most recently, it served as a muse for a bronze statue of the blue jeans’ creator himself, Levi Strauss, which was erected just outside of the Levi Strauss Museum in the German town of Buttenheim.
The piece was created by Berlin artist Rainer Kurka in honor of the museum’s 20th anniversary last year, and features Strauss removing a top hat to greet visitors. With a friendly, inviting disposition and a golden rivet in his hand, the statue of Strauss sits on the ground as opposed to a pedestal to convey his down-to-earth personality, according to museum director Tanja Roppelt.
The sculpture served as a creative focal point of the celebration, and was donated by the Friends Association of the Levi Strauss Birth House and board members who led a sponsorship campaign.
Another focal point for the museum’s milestone was a denim art exhibition developed by British artist and 2019 Rivet 50 honoree Ian Berry. The installation kicked off the celebration just four months after reopening from lockdown, and featured Berry’s artwork from the past decade, including pieces from his “Behind Closed Doors” and “Hotel California” series as well new projects inspired by the global lockdowns of 2020.
Despite the pandemic and resulting restrictions that limited visitors to touring the museum in groups of 12, the celebration garnered a total of 2,500 guests in six weeks.
The museum, which was Strauss’ childhood home, opened to the public in September 2000, and underscored consumers’ relentless enthusiasm for denim history. Levi’s has since opened a “Levi Strauss: A History of American Style” exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, as well as a satellite archive outside of its San Francisco headquarters.
The rich history of fellow heritage denim brand Wrangler was also the subject of a popup exhibit in 2015. Just this year, the former Blue Bell plant, which once manufactured Wrangler jeans, was also added to the National Register of Historic Places, to the delight of denim heads around the country and beyond.