Back to Black: 5 Artists Re-imagine the Cover of Our Debut Issue

In the fall of 1996, when our inaugural issue first hit newsstands (probably a newsstand), BlackBook established its new name by publishing an all-black cover with a white rubber-stamp logo, the alphabet running down its right side. The magazine, obviously, wasn’t brought to life to make anyone money. Rather, it was designed to champion the underdogs of art, fashion, film, music, books, and nightlife. And it was, in its way, an art piece itself, created by a ragtag group—which is why we asked another ragtag group to reinvent the original BlackBook cover as an actual piece of art. Here, Adam Green, Curtis Kulig, David Shrigley, Eve Sussman, and Dustin Yellin reach back into the archives of a magazine that’s always had its gaze aimed squarely at the horizon.


Curtis Kulig is a New York–based painter, illustrator, and photographer who relocated from North Dakota when he was 18, quickly establishing a cult following in the downtown art scene. His experiments with screen-printing and photography have led to collaborations with artists such as Shepard Fairey and Damien Hirst, as well as projects for Standard Hotels, Ace Hotels, Nike, and HBO. Kulig’s recent work has been featured in exhibitions at the Nyehaus and Leo Kesting galleries in New York. His iconic “Love Me” tag can be found on the streets and walls of Manhattan, Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo. image

Adam Green is a founding member of the Moldy Peaches, a New York–based indie band that began releasing music in the mid-’90s. He’s since launched a successful solo music career and, most recently, he directed The Wrong Ferrari, a film shot entirely on his iPhone, starring Macaulay Culkin and Devendra Banhart. “I originally wanted to do the BlackBook cover as Bart Simpson with a tracheotomy,” he says of his piece. “Then I started thinking about Norman Rockwell and the great magazine covers he created, which stand as proof that somebody can be a genius and at the same time quite stupid. I considered doing a stupid-genius–type thing, but then decided to follow my classier instincts.” image

David Shrigley is a Glasgow-based artist who’s shown his work at London’s Tate Museum and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. His new book, What the Hell Are You Doing? The Essential David Shrigley, will be published this October by W. W. Norton & Company. “My experience making the cover for BlackBook was successful and rewarding and interesting and efficient and utilized several circular adhesive labels,” says Shrigley, who’d never heard of the magazine before we asked him to contribute. image

Eve Sussman, a New York–based artist and filmmaker, is the founder of Rufus Corporation, a multi-faceted production company where she’s overseen the creation of several films, photography projects, and installations, including 89 Seconds at Alcázar, The Rape of the Sabine Women, and Yuri’s Office. Her latest film, a never-ending, never-repeating neo-noir experiment called whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir, will be unveiled on September 15 at New York’s Cristin Tierney Gallery. For her BlackBook piece, Sussman was inspired by Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square canvas painting. image

Dustin Yellin is a Los Angeles–born, New York–based artist who prides himself on creating art that reflects his interest in mythology, nature, and the trajectory of society. He is the co-founder of the Kidd Yellin Gallery in Red Hook, Brooklyn, which he opened with photographer Charlotte Kidd in 2009. (The gallery’s next exhibition, a solo show featuring the work of installation artist Brian Wondergem, opens September 9.) Yellin’s collage evokes “an ominous interior—part bathhouse, part fallout shelter. It’s a strange retro-futurist amalgam of decadence and the Devil’s avocado.” What he said.

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