Artist Francesca Galliani Explores: Feminism, Human Rights and The Female Body

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Italian populism is on the rise, fueled by the era of Trump, but artist Francesca Galliani continues to push the democratic ideals where art and freedom of expression meet seamlessly between Italian and American culture via the rise of globalization. Photographer, Francesca Galliani doesn’t just take photos—she captures emotion. Through her imagery, which also includes mixed media works, collage and painting, the Italian born and New York-based artist explores feminism, human rights and the female body. From subjects including impoverished towns in Southeast Asia, to members of the transgender community, Galliani’s work has taken her across the world—and her photos bring the viewers right along with her.

Having discovered photography by chance, after taking a summer course in order to learn how to use her camera, Galliani fell in love with the dark room—and the process. Using experimental techniques to manipulate her photos, she doesn’t believe in boundaries. Instead, Galliani uses art to break as many barriers as possible, while always communicating a powerful message.

As part of the opening of BlackBook’s new experiential art gallery, “BlackBook Presents”, we’ve curated some of our favorite pieces of Galliani’s work, which will be on view starting November 28 at BlackBook Presents in Dumbo Brooklyn.

In anticipation of the show, we sat down with the artist to talk about her work and her responsibilities as an artist.

 

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Tell me about your background.

I’ve been an artist since 1983. My background is: I went to art school and started out as a photographer. I originally just wanted to do fine art photography, but then eventually expanded. I come from the old school of being in the dark room, and developed some techniques that are unique to me. I use toner to do a manual intervention and take the image to another dimension. I’ve always been into manipulating images. So, I started in the dark room and eventually went to mixed media. I always start with my images and then add paint and other elements, especially with words. I love words, I love to take them out of their context and give them a new meaning when you isolate them. I’ve been working in the dark room for 35 years and that’s still my home base. I still am always in the dark room. There’s a magic in there.

Do you consider your work collage?

I think they’re bigger than collage—they take it a step further. So, I’d call it mixed media. I mean, I always start in the dark room, with my images, and then I work to manipulate them. There are elements of collage there, of course, but I also use things like paint, graphite, charcoal.

How did you first get into photography?

It really happened by coincidence. When I was younger, I decided I wanted to learn how to use a camera. So, I went to a summer class to learn, and had this nice surprise of really being in love with it. Then, you know how when you fall in love with something or someone, you just want to do it or be near them all the time? That’s what happened, and I started shooting, and working in the dark room everyday. But when the class was over, my teacher took me aside and she said, ‘The technique, everyone can learn, but the eye—you either have it or you don’t. And you have it. I urge you to keep going.’ I went to the Corcoran School of Art where I got a BFA specializing in photography.

What is it for you about photography that really allows you to express yourself in a way that other mediums maybe wouldn’t?

Any time I create—it could be photography, or painting—the process keeps me alive. It gives me life. The process of creation itself is everything—the medium doesn’t really matter. They all have the same result of feeding me, feeding my soul. But I also believe it’s the art itself that tells you what to do—that we, as artists, are just channels. So, when I create a painting it’s based on instinct. Photography is an art form—it’s just a different media that serves the same purpose, equally as good as a painting. It’s just about learning how to listen to your gut and follow it, but also let your intellect be part of the creative process. Don’t get influenced by what you think other people might like.

When did you start working with collage, though?

Around 2004.

What made you want to start?

Well, look. I started in 1983, so it took me basically 20 years to get to that point. But I started because I use these toners that are very powerful. They give a great punch to the image, but they also contain Mercury, which is toxic. So, at a certain point, I used to think, ‘For my art, I don’t care if it kills me.’ But then I started getting sick, and my lungs started to hurt, and I realized I didn’t want to die just for the sake of my work. I changed my mind. But I wanted to keep creating in a unique way. So, I decided to continue shooting analog photos, then scan my work and create really large pieces. Then I decided I could still manually intervene, like I used to with toner, but with paint, or with collage, and still achieve that same effect. And I ended up loving the process.
When I was in art school, the first few years, you have to take sort of basic classes. So, everyone—myself included—had to take classes like painting, figure drawing, etc. But I did end up getting real training in painting. Of course, when I was in school, I didn’t care about painting—I just wanted to do my photography. But it was amazing, because later on, that education really served my work. Like, the work I’m doing now, I’m working with abstract painting, which I’ve never done in my life. But I just had this voice in my head telling me, ‘Abstract. You have to do it.’ At first, I thought it would be a disaster, but the more I work, the more I fall in love with it.

As far as photography goes—a lot of people find that photographing someone is almost like communicating to them non-verbally. Do you find that that’s true?

Oh, absolutely. A lot of my work is really socio-political, even my nudes. If you look at the women I photograph, they’re all strong, powerful women. Usually, with nudes, it’s all about seeing and showcasing the body. But with my photos, it’s about showing female strength, and the power in their form. I’ve also been photographing transgender people since 1998. Now, that’s much more accepted, but especially in the ‘90s, it wasn’t something everyone was doing. I did all of those portraits to show the dignity and the beauty of the community. So, I definitely like to use my work to communicate a strong socio-political message.

 

 

Do you consider your work feminist?

Of course. My work is about human rights, and women’s rights are human rights.

How does your work explore human rights?

The LGBTQ community, being a woman, even poverty—these are all things that experience prejudice, and with my work, I want to shine a light on them, and the show the dignity in those communities. I do like to have a wide spectrum, and not just focus on one thing, because I want to share the power of all these different things. Even when I traveled to Southeast Asia and photographed all of these impoverished communities—that’s important to me. So many people think of success as how much money you make, or how many nice things you have, but I wanted to show that success can mean many different things. It was similar to what I did with the transgender community in that I wanted to show the beauty in these people, to show that they, too, are human. As for the abstract stuff, it’s really about exploring uncertainty and uncertain times, which is really what the whole world is dealing with right now—not just the United States. Everything is changing, shifting to the extreme right side, so there’s a lot of fear. But art can be a venue—I believe art changes things.

I know you’re from Milan originally. With your work, you’re clearly touching on relevant socio-political themes in regards to what’s happening in the U.S., but do you think your cultural background plays a part in your aesthetic?

Of course my culture has a role in shaping my work. But I came to the United States at a very young age, and the work I’m doing has always engaged with my current experiences. As an artist, I think we work 24 hours a day—we’re at work, even when we’re not physically creating. Sometimes you don’t necessarily feel inspired to work, and I used to have a really hard time with that part. Like, ‘Why are you not producing?’ But then I realized you need those periods of rest when you’re job is putting yourself, and all of your feelings, out there for the rest of the world to interact with. It’s necessary to recharge if you want to create again. So, who I am, the culture that I’m in, just walking around—all of that influences my work. And who I am is what I believe in, which has a huge impact on what I do.

I know you said you really fell in love with photography because of the process, and your experience working in the dark room, but do you think its ability to tackle these kinds of topics—like human rights or feminism—is part of what makes it so appealing to you?

As artists, I think we have a responsibility to create. You’re given a gift and it’s a responsibility for you to use that gift to create and share a message. Like I said, when I first started, I just wanted to learn how to use my camera. But then I learned to follow my gut, and my instincts, and use my camera to share what I believe in. It’s my responsibility to address what’s happening in the world, however it comes out in my art. Whether it’s more obvious with words, or just an abstract image, people can interpret it however they want, but I’m really not a conceptual artist. My work is emotional, and speaks directly to people. That’s why I don’t give titles to most of my pieces—because I want the image to show what it has to say. There’s a really intimate connection between art and the person who’s looking at it. So, I really don’t like to interfere. My job is just to act as a vessel and let the work speak for itself.

How do you think your work has changed since you first started?

It has definitely evolved. I always like to be experimental, and push boundaries with what I’m doing. I never like to find something that works and just get stuck in it. So, I’m always creating and trying to push myself to create differently. I think there are artists who get stuck in what they’re doing, and others, who get too excited and change their style quickly. I tend to be that kind of artist. So, I do need to force myself to slow down a bit, but I never want to stop evolving.

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t an artist?

I don’t know. I’ve asked myself that many times. But I can’t imagine doing anything else. Art is my passion—I don’t know how to be anything but creative. I did do fashion photography for a number of years and I did really enjoy it, but that’s still a creative thing. The difference is, you have to follow directions from the client, which forces you to be creative within limitations. But when I do my own art, I don’t want any boundaries—I want to break them.

What do you want people to take away from your work?

I just want to make people think, and open up something inside of them that makes them want to journey within. Of course, I know there are people who aren’t going to like my work. But for the people that like it, I want to touch their emotions, and make them feel good. Someone who bought a few of my pieces once told me he likes coming home to my work because it makes him happy. That’s great. I can’t ask for anything more than that. I just want to have a positive impact.

 

See more of Francesca’s work at the BlackBook Presents opening on November 28 through January 1, 2019 at 20 John Street in Brooklyn.

 

Francesca’s recent exhibitions include:

2018 M.A.C. Milan-Italy

2018 Studio Tiepolo 38, Rome-Italy

2018 Biennale Internazionale Arte Contemporanea (Bias) Palermo

2018 Mc2 gallery, Milan-Italy

Photographer Bob Tabor is the Ansel Adams of the Modern Generation

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—Except with a twist; Bob Tabor’s black-and-white and low-contrast color portraits of horses and the ocean are ethereal and effortlessly American. And they pull you right in.

But while Adams photographed the American landscape in high contrast black-and-white, Tabor’s landscapes are often more abstract. A close-up on the break of a wave; a large-scale portrait of a horse’s eye—Tabor focuses on the beauty in the details of some of nature’s most mysterious subjects. His works are equally enigmatic. A black-and-white image of a splash of rustling water could, if you didn’t know what it was, just as easily be a painting, or a slab of granite. That’s part of their unmistakable beauty: Tabor’s work makes you want to stop and examine things a little closer; think, consider, and really take things in.

The former advertising executive and creative director, who got his start in photography only ten years ago after learning how to use a camera while on vacation in Napa, has released his own coffee table books, Horse Whisperings, Polo: Equine Warriors, HORSE/HUMAN: An Emotional Bond, and Dreamscapes: Finding a place to call your own; Ralph Lauren decorates their stores around the world with Bob Tabor’s stunning equestrian images; and exhibited his work all around New York City and The Hamptons, where he currently lives and works. Now Bob is aiming global as interest in his works pours in.

A selection of some of Tabor’s latest work will be on view as part of the opening of BlackBook’s new experiential art gallery, “BlackBook Presents,” beginning November 28 in Dumbo, Brooklyn.

We spoke with Bob Tabor at length about his work and show at BlackBook Presents:

 

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Tell me about your background.

For 46 years, I was an Executive Creative Director for advertising agencies and worked on leading accounts with major brands globally. I worked with Alka Seltzer, Dentyne Ice, off-track betting—I introduced that way back when—pharmaceutical accounts, everything, and I won every award in the ad industry. But I always had that feeling of wanting to create. It was just that I was always creating for other people—that’s what I did during the week. Then, the weekends came, and I didn’t want to do anything except get my head together and look forward to the next week. So, I never did my own creative work for me. Then, for my 60th birthday, my—at that point—new wife and I went on vacation to Napa, and she bought me a point and shoot, simple digital camera. But really just for fun, and to enjoy the holiday. But what happened was, the moment I picked up that camera, I started to see things differently and from different perspectives. I shot non-stop for that entire week in the vineyard, and that started the whole thing.

When did you go from shooting for yourself for fun on that vineyard to being a professional artist?

Pretty much immediately, people saw my work and started putting it in galleries. One day, while I was photographing in a vineyard in Bridgehampton, I noticed a horse being ridden by what looked like a model. I followed them, and ended up finding the stables. So, I picked up my camera again and just started shooting the horses. A week later, I came back to share the images that I took because I felt that the horses looked like sculptures, and the way that the light hit them—it was just a whole new world for me. A gentleman came in while I was sharing the work, and said, ‘That’s my horse! Is the photo for sale?’ I mean, I hadn’t even thought about selling my work. But he told me, ‘Buddy, I think you should meet my boss.’ I asked him who he worked for, and he ended up being one of the store designers for Ralph Lauren. So, talk about stepping in it. I stepped in it. The rest is history, and my love for horses, my love for photography—it grows every single day.

Do you think your job in advertising had anything to do with your career move?

For me, it really was a natural progression of what I was doing for others—I became a brand, and the brand of Bob Tabor is very sacred to me. I respect the work, I respect the prices people pay for it, I don’t just look to sell and undercut prices, and I only make a limited edition of eight of each of my fine art images. But I let people order it in whatever size they want. So, each one is limited edition, but each one is also an edition of its own. I truly don’t believe it’s art unless you bring it into your life. That’s why I don’t want to feel limited for the consumer to say, ‘Oh it’s so nice, but I wish my wall was smaller,’ or ‘This is four feet and my wall is twelve feet.’ And again, because of my background in graphic design, playing with negative space, the way I crop an image—those things are very important to me, and part of what, I think, makes my work my own.
If I can’t make things that are different than all of the other photographers out there, I just won’t do it. I need everything I make to be mine—even my polo work. So, when I’m shooting polo matches, I don’t care about the scenery, I don’t care about the people watching the game—I want to see the horse. He’s the warrior. I want to see his muscles, I want to see his eyes. In all of my equine work, the star is the horse, the eyes of the horse and the opening of the soul of the animal—the beauty, and the sensitivity. That’s what I try to capture in every portrait I do.

How do you think your advertising work has affected your eye as a photographer?

Because of advertising, I have that graphic design sense where I know how to look at a page, or a canvas, or in this case, a photo, and now how to make it appealing for a consumer to stop when they’re looking at a magazine with a hundred other photos trying to gain their attention. So, the way I do things with my photography is also very graphic. Also, the conceptual fun of thinking up an idea to make it inviting, to create something that makes someone stop and view something differently—that’s equally important in photography. It’s about how you present it, and how they interpret it to make it art. It’s basically the same job again—I keep on doing the same thing over and over. Groundhog Day.

Before advertising, when you were younger, did you ever have any interest in the arts?

No. I never had an interest. The camera was always only there to take photos of my children when they were growing up. Before that, when I was in high school, I was accepted into the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and my major at that point was fine art. That’s what I wanted to be—a fine artist, and teach college level art so I could put some food on the table. In school, I really excelled at painting, but I had a real dose of reality when my father sat me down and said, ‘You’re going to have to support yourself. You got into a bad habit eating five times a day, and I can’t keep it going.’ So, I went back to my counselor at SVA and asked him how I could stay in the art world, but know that I could make a living when I graduate, and he said advertising. So, that’s what I did, and truthfully, I loved it as much as I loved fine art, because I was still creating.

Walk me through your process. The idea of using natural light, but replacing the natural background is really unique. Why did you start doing that?

Well, I really break my work up into two worlds: the equine world and the landscape world. With the equine world, I want to take away anything that’s distracting the viewer from the face and eyes of the animal. It works in my favor to tell the story of the animal. So, I do actually photograph animals in the worst possible lighting—hard lighting in the middle of the day, early afternoon, when it’s so hot and so bright. I only shoot the animal in their environments—their barns, their stables—in their comfortable environment, with natural lighting so they don’t get uncomfortable with lights flashing all around them. My shutter is constantly being clicked, so I am the sound that they hear—they think a shutter is part of me—and I can go up and stick that camera right up next to their eye, because they trust me. I talk to them. There’s no rush for me to get a photograph. So, I really try to build a friendship—a bond—with these animals, so that they’ll let me shoot them in their most special, and vulnerable way.

What about the process with your ocean graphics?

The ocean graphics—there’s actually two parts to the story. The first is that I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean. Growing up, my parents ran a hotel in The Rockaways in Queens, and during summertime, I spent my days at the beach, from the time I was an infant until I was six years old. So, I was always drawn to the ocean. For me, like for most people, the ocean really is a space for rebirth; it’s a calming factor; it’s soothing, even when the ocean is at its roughest. Even right now, I’m sitting here looking at a photo I took of the ocean that’s currently in my living room. Just looking at gives me an instant calm feeling.
There was a series I did called ‘Dreamscapes,’ and they were really just the beauty of the ocean. From that series, I started to delve into the thought process of my own life—thinking of the future, thinking of the past, thinking of the moment—and I started to do another series called ‘White Seascapes.’ They’re all bleached white, no color—just grays and whites. There’s a whole series like that, which will be featured in my new book, Splash, which will be my fifth coffee table book.
But this series deals with something that I was unaware of. It was not only dealing with the future and enjoying the moment, and getting caught up in the thought process, but there was uncomfortable pattern coming out regarding my past. While I was working on it, in post-production, taking out the color and giving it this more heavenly look, there was this uncomfortable pattern I started to notice. The work is well received and truly, people enjoy it. But that’s when I met [Blackbarn’s] Mark [Zeff]. He saw the white on white photo and asked me to sit down for a meeting. So, I went to go meet him and he made me uncomfortable for the very first time since I had worked in advertising. He said, ‘Push the envelope. Give me something different. Take the water and change it.’ That just totally shocked me, and at first, I thought ‘No way. That’s not Bob Tabor.’ But then I started to go back and did this major exploratory, and wound up with that whole series of ‘Splash’ pieces, which are actually the tip of the surf from the ‘White on White’ series.

You said you were having a sort of bad, anxious feeling when looking at the seascapes. What was that about? Did you ever figure it out?

I’m the baby of three brothers, and fortunately, both of my brothers are both still alive. But I went to my brothers and said, ‘I’m dealing with something with this water process and I can’t figure it out.’ I don’t swim. I’m 70 years old, I live near the beach, I have a pool, and I’m fascinated by the ocean. But I just can’t put my head under water. My brothers, who are 8 and 16 years older than me finally said, ‘Well, didn’t Mom ever tell you that you almost drowned?’ What the fuck? I just had an intuitive reaction. Apparently, my father—like I said, we spent summers at the beach—when I was two years old, carried me into the ocean, and a big wave hit him, knocking me out of his arms. I obviously was looking under water to see the type of lighting that I’m now re-creating in my art work.

 

 

What’s your favorite part about photographing the subjects you do?

When I photograph, I know exactly what I’m looking for before it happens—whether it’s the churning of the waves, I’ll stop and wait for a particular feeling that I just know the ocean is going to deliver, or if it’s a horse and I pick up a certain head movement as it happens. I’m a quick read of what’s around me. And really, I see the finished photo before I even take out my camera. That’s why, when I’m commissioned to do work, I say, ‘It make take an hour, or it may take a week. I’ll stay there until I have it, and I know I have it when I leave, otherwise I don’t. I’ll stay as long as it takes to get the right moment. I don’t look at photos after the fact and think, ‘Oh that’s great! Let’s use that one.’ I try to make it exactly how I think it should be while I’m there in the moment.

How do you know if you got the shot?

It’s a commitment. But it gets to the point of trusting your vision, and knowing what looks right, and what you’re trying to communicate with your piece. You just have to be able to step away, and trust your instincts.

You do use some color in your work, with the equine photos and some of your ocean landscapes, but a lot of your work is in black-and-white. Why is that?

If you look at my Dreamscapes, they’re all color. But I love the ethereal quality of the black-and-white that I really try to communicate in my work. Each subject matter I take on has its own personality. I try not to set any rules in what I’m trying to accomplish—it’s very important for me to start with a fresh canvas each time you sit down with something.

Remind me—how long have you been doing photography professionally?

I had my first show, my first sale to Ralph Lauren—everything—in 2008.

How do you think your work has grown or changed in the last decade?

I see graphically a sophistication, and a sort of awareness of what I’m doing, particularly in post-production, within this media. I also feel my thinking has broadened, not for the 8 ½ x 11 ½ page, but large-scale images. It’s not a price factor with me, as much as it is the impression that the image leaves. So, if I could, I’d do everything in large, large scale.

Why?

I love the impact. I love that you step into the subject matter, that you become one. You’re standing at the shore and the sea is at your footsteps. I love that you can step right into the stable and look right into the horse’s eyes. You and your thoughts become transported into that environment. If imagery is small, it’s confined—you dominate it. You don’t become a part of it. And with all of my work, I want the viewer to be a part of it. I want to get them thinking.

Having started with photography so late in life, how do you see your career moving forward? What do you hope for yourself?

I hope that I can continue to learn and discover the love I have for the arts. It may be taking photography and marrying it with other media; maybe I do a 360 and do photography as well as painting and putting them together. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I’m very happy with today, and I think if you feel that there’s always something to learn, and something that brings excitement to your daily routine—it’s fantastic.

What do you want people to take away from your work?

I want people to work while they’re looking at my work. Yes, I want them to feel a connection, a love for the work. But I want them to write the storyline of the visual. That’s why none of my works have a name, they all have a number—because I want you to look at that piece of art and say, ‘Oh my god, that reminds me of when I was a child,’ or ‘Oh my god, I’m going through a rough time now and this gives me some peace,’ or ‘Oh my god, look at the horse.’ A woman stopped me once after she saw one of my photos and asked me ‘Where did you shoot that horse?’ I told her I didn’t know and she told me she knew the minute she saw it that it was her horse from when she was much younger. So, she kept asking me where I photographed it and I told her, finally, ‘I don’t remember but if that’s your horse, then that’s your horse.’ And she bought it. It’s those types of experiences that I want to create with my art. You write your own script—I just supply the visuals.

 

More of Bob Tabor’s work will be on view at the BlackBook Presents opening on November 28 through January 1, 2019 at 20 John Street in Brooklyn, NY.

 

Publications:

2015, ‘HORSE/HUMAN: An Emotional Bond’, Glitterati

2014, ‘Dreamscapes: Finding a place to call your own’, Antique Collectors Club Distribution

2013, ‘Polo: Equine Warriors’, Antique Collectors Club Distribution

2011, Featured in Linda O’Keefe’s ‘Brilliant: White in Design’, The Monacelli Press

2010, ‘Horse Whisperings’, Antique Collectors Club Distribution

 

Exhibitions:

2018, Emmanuel Fremin Gallery at REVEAL International Contemporary Art Fair

2018, Contempop Gallery at Market Art + Design

2016, Contempop Gallery at CONTEXT Art Miami

2015, Contempop Expressions Galleries at Art Toronto

Diesel Teams Up With Berlin’s Most Famous Kebab Kiosk On A New Capsule Collection

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The fashion world is no stranger to collaborations. In the last year alone, Calvin Klein has teamed up with Andy Warhol, Raf Simons with Robert Mapplethorpe and Coach with our favorite Disney characters. Now, Diesel has partnered with famous Berlin kebab kiosk Mustafa Gemüse Kebap, on a streetwear-inspired capsule collection designed by the owner. The line, which features sweatshirts, t-shirts and hats, shows a reimagined version of their logo alongside colorful patches on each piece.

“I just tried to add some special ingredients,” Gemüse told DAZED, “and make sure everybody involved was happy and not hungry, holding a fresh kebab in their hand.”

Along with the collection, the brand made a teaser video that showcases just how popular Mustafa Gemüse Kebap really is. In one of the world’s coolest cities, skaters, punks, tourists and fashion girls alike all line up for blocks to taste one of Gemüse’s exalted delectables. (Now we’re hungry, and can’t wait to get back to Berlin.)

Watch the Diesel x Mustafa Gemüse Kebap teaser video, below, and be sure to cop the collection online and in select stores, starting September 3.

 


 

Photo/video courtesy of Diesel

 

Olivier Rousteing Cast a Group of CGI Models in his Latest Balmain Campaign

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CGI’s not a completely new tool in the fashion industry – after all, cyber It-Girl Lil Miquela has collaborated with brands like Prada and NYC-based AREA. But Olivier Rousteing took the trend to a whole new level when he decided to cast three CGI models for his latest Balmain campaign. That’s right – as if women didn’t have enough to stress over in looking at real life models, we now have to compare ourselves to digital perfection.

 

For the brand’s Pre-Fall 2018 campaign, Rousteing reached out to digital artist Cameron-James Wilson to “construct a new, alternative and virtual Balmain Army.” Wilson became popular earlier this year with his virtual model Shudu, who has almost 150K Instagram followers, and has graced the pages of The Cut and The New Yorker.

 

For the Balmain campaign, however, Wilson created two more models, Margot and Zhi, so the trio could model digital versions of the brand’s Pre-Fall collection created by CLO, a company that creates “true to life 3D garment simulation” to help designers throughout their development process.

 

The campaign definitely looks cool, but also, kind of like a Sims version of a fashion ad. Yet is Balmain just the first brand to reject IRL models to dive head first into CGI? We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I guess we should all follow Shudu on Instagram. I mean, she’s already stealing our jobs. So, best to keep an eye on our man’s DMs.

 

Yayoi Kusama Is Bringing Her Famous Dots To Skateboarding

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Yayoi Kusama’s notorious dots are instantly recognizable. And now, you’ll be able to spot them on the streets instead of just inside museums, as the exalted artist is doing her own polka-dotted skateboards. MoMA has tapped her to create a series of 500 limited edition boards featuring renditions of her famous work, “DOTS OBSESSSION (2018),” exclusively available through their online design store.

 

 

Courtesy of MoMA Design Store

 

Born in Japan in 1929, Kusama made a name for herself in the early 1950s for her abstract paintings of those polka dots. After moving to the United States in 1957, she began creating her now infamous “Infinity Rooms” (currently on exhibit at The Cleveland Museum of Art) and staging offbeat happenings around New York City. Since 1977, she’s lived in the Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill just outside of Tokyo, where she continues to paint regularly.

 

‘Phalli’s Field’ Infinity Room; photo by Eikoh Hosoe, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York  

 

In recent years, other artists have also lent their works to the skateboarding community, including Barbara Kruger, who teamed up with iconic skate shop and streetwear brand Supreme to create a series of “Don’t Be A Jerk” skateboards and skate ramps in 2017. But Kusama’s project will be her first (and potentially only) skateboard related ever – and they are all actually hand-painted by her. Originally, the boards were made from samples based on digital renderings of Kusama’s art work. But when they were shipped to the artist for final approval, she decided to paint over each one of them meticulously.

The skateboards will come in four different styles: two white boards with red dots (one large, one small), and two yellow boards with black dots (also in small and large sizes). Though the MoMA Design Store has not yet listed an official date for the drop, once they are available, we know they’ll sell out quickly. After all, if there are two types of people who like exclusives, it is definitely art collectors and skaters.

 

‘In Infinity’ by Kim Hansen, courtesy of Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

 

Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty Will Make Its Runway Debut At NYFW

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Fashion Month is almost here!

And you know what that means? All of our favorite brands will be hitting the runway, with everything kicking off in New York in just a few short weeks. This season, Rihanna will be joining the NYFW lineup, with her new lingerie brand, Savage x Fenty making its runway debut.

 

 

Of course, Rih is no stranger to the fashion fanfare. Before launching Fenty x Puma, which she presented during NYFW and PFW ahead of the brand’s current hiatus, she sat front row at shows for everyone from Yeezy to Alexander Wang. But the inclusive lingerie label she announced last spring hit stores earlier this summer, following a series of viral Instagram ads featuring influencers of all sizes and colors. Hopefully Rihanna will maintain the brand’s focus on diversity and ethos of empowerment for their first runway show.

 

 

As of now, not much is known about the presentation, other than that it will take place on September 12 in New York City, and that it won’t be just like any other fashion show. Rih described the event as an “immersive experience.”

 

#UCUTE in that Lace Teddy! | Tap to shop that! ✨Cc: @mollyconstable

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There’s one thing we do know, though: Rihanna definitely doesn’t like to follow convention. When she released the Savage x Fenty line in May, she even included a set of handcuffs as part of the collection. So, whatever she does on the runway this Fall, we know it’ll be lit AF.

 

Image courtesy of Savage x Fenty

Runway Rundown: All The Best From Spring ’19 Ready-to-Wear, Resort and Fall ’18 Couture

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Valentino Fall ’18 Couture

 

A lot has happened on the runway over the last few weeks. There was Paris Couture Week; before that, some designers showed their Spring ’19 collections; and in between all of those, there was Resort (which we don’t usually care for, but this season had one great moment). So, we don’t blame you if you’ve missed some things. And because we love you, we’re going to be your fashion fairy godmothers, and round up everything you need to see if you haven’t already (and if you have, all of the amazing things you should look at again). Below, our favorite runway moments — or, as we like to call them, the only ones worth mentioning.

 

Spring ’19 Ready-to-Wear:

Spring can be really boring. I mean, florals, for Spring? Groundbreaking. No, but seriously, it can really hard to re-invent the wheel when that wheel is a limited range of flowing skirts, mini dresses and caftans. That’s why our favorite brands threw out seasonal rules altogether and did things like patent leather and hoodies.

 

Alyx

 

For Matthew Williamson’s first ever runway show for his four-year-old brand Alyx (or, as its named now, 1017 Alyx 9SM for Williamson’s birthday and the location of his first studio at 9 Saint Marks), the designer went all out. Instead of debuting a ton of cliche Spring pieces, like bathing suits and floral dresses, the collection looked almost as if it could’ve been for Fall. With a post-apocalyptic vibe perfect for our current political climate, Willliamson’s pieces looked like a uniform for, albeit incredibly fashionable, anti-fascist soldiers. Sign me up.

 

Vetements

 

VETEMENTS SPRING-SUMMER 2019

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VETEMENTS SPRING-SUMMER 2019 – WATCH THE OFFICIAL VIDEO – LINK IN THE PROFILE

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VETEMENTS SPRING-SUMMER 2019

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For fashion world darling Demna Gvasalia’s turn on the runway, the designer paid homage to his home country, Georgia. Gvasalia casted the show with all Georgian teenagers, and took the opportunity to teach fashion insiders about the current political turmoil happening in the region. In fact, each piece from the collection comes with a giant bar code, that once scanned with your iPhone, will open an app that features facts about the country. And as much as I want to hate Vetements, I wish I could afford to pay $1,000 for a sweatshirt.

 

Kenzo

 

Prints, prints, prints. #KENZOSS19

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Kenzo S/S ’19 was all about prints. Gingham, checks, polka-dots, snakeskin — you name it, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon designed it, and styled it together. The whole maximalist, should-be-clashing-but-instead-looks amazing thing has always been Kenzo’s vibe, but each season Lim and Leon seem to do it better and better. After last year’s Spring collection, I really thought the brand had reached their peak, but this season even makes me want to wear color.

 


 

Resort:

Honestly, I shouldn’t have even included Resort on this list, since it’s really not a list – it’s just Miu Miu.

 

Miu Miu

 

If Miu Miu’s Resort ’19 collection was bad, it truly wouldn’t have even mattered. With a casting like the one they had at The Regina Hotel in Paris last week, including Rowan Blanchard, Kaia Gerber, Uma Thurman, Chloe Sevigny and Naomi Campbell, no one would have even noticed the clothes. But we did, because the collection was perfect. Kind of preppy, but with a race car driver-meets-Valley of the Dolls-meets-Maui sort of look, the Miu Miu collection was what Miuccia Prada still does best, even after all these years: it was fun, it was free, and somehow, between all the clashing prints and furry heels, it was still subtle.

 


 

Fall ’18 Couture:

Couture is all about fantasy; it’s about staring at beautiful clothes you desperately want but have absolutely nowhere to wear them to. When it came to this year’s Couture Week, our favorite designers didn’t let us down, delivering some of the dreamiest collections we’ve ever seen grace the runway. I mean, Kaia Gerber at Valentino. Enough said. But don’t worry, we’ll say more anyway.

 

Chanel

 

For his Fall ’18 Chanel couture show, Karl Lagerfeld paid homage to Paris. Honestly, everything the guy does is good, and the fact that he’s still able to send tweed two-pieces down the runway, and make them look good — well, that alone, proves he’s a genius. In addition to his love of Paris, the designer built this collection around what he calls the “high profile” — long skirts that unzip to show thigh-bearing minis underneath. “You can wear it zipped down when you visit your banker, no?” he told Vogue. “And zipped up when you see your lover after!”

 

Valentino

 

At this point, there’s no way you haven’t seen at least one photo from the Valentino couture show. Images of Kaia Gerber in her amazing beehive have literally been flooding the internet. But for once, the talk is true and all the hype is worth it. The Valentino collection was the MVP of Couture Week — and maybe all of 2018. Obviously, Pat McGrath and Guido Palau killed it with the beauty; but the collection itself was completely breathtaking. I mean, the models looked like actual angels floating down the runway in their billowy gowns and floral headdresses.

 

Fendi

 

 

Fendi always knows what they’re doing. For their couture collection, the brand took a step back from the logomania that’s taken over their last few seasons, and created a ’60s-inspired ode to fur. While a lot of the industry has vowed to go fur free, Lagerfeld has doubled down with Fendi. Though the collection included bits of actual fur, it was more about the ways in which he treated other fabrics that created a sort of gaudy (but in a good way), glam feel that I totally could’ve imaged Liz Taylor or Anne Welles in.

 

Margiela

 

Discover highlights from our Autumn-Winter 2018 ‘Artisanal’ Collection designed by @jgalliano: The nomadic idea of taking life on the road is conveyed in abundant layering where garments interweave and mutate. #maisonmargiela #artisanal #artisanalartistry – Music: “Unchained Melody” Written By: Alex North & Hy Zaret Courtesy Unchained Melody Publishing LLC – Black Saturn, Nicholas Hill, Luciano Ugo Rossi, Glenn Herweijer; Ben Sumner. KPM Music When The Clock Stops, Nikky French. KPM Music Breakacuda,Benjamin Medcalf. Anger Music Circus Caravan MYMA. Justement Music Flight Remembered, Nicholas Hill, Glen Herweijer, Ben Sumner. KPM Music The Arrival, David James Caton, Harry Valentine. Anger Music Etude in e major, Frederic Chopin, Tolga Kashif, KPM Music Warhammer, Darren Mudge. Anger Music Arrangement : Jeremy Healy

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Galliano went all Fifth Element for his latest Margiela Artisanal collection (he’s too cool for couture, natch). Using VR headsets and iPhones as accessories, the designer sent a retro-futuristic, technology-obsessed collection down the runway. And hey, since people are already attached to their phones, physically adhering them to our outfits seems like a natural next step. That, or we’re going to war with aliens and Galliano is designing the outfits.

 

Viktor and Rolf

 

To celebrate their 25 years together, Viktor & Rolf decided to take 25 of the brand’s most iconic looks, and update them for their Fall ’18 couture collection. That update meant turning everything white and covering them in Swarovski crystals. Though I’ve always been a fan of Viktor & Rolf, there’s literally nothing more perfect than the bed dresses they originally created for their Fall ’05 collection — or, at least, I thought, until I saw this season’s iteration, complete with white bedazzled pillows and a down evening dress. Sigh. This is what dreams are made of.

 

Photos & Video: Instagram

Must See Art: Tom Wesselmann at Gagosian Beverly Hills

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‘Still Life #29,’ 1963, Oil and printed paper collaged on canvas, 9′ x 12′, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

This Thursday, Gagosian Beverly Hills will be launching a solo exhibition of rare works by Pop Art notable Tom Wesselmann. Wesselmann: 1963-1983 will feature seven pieces created by the artist, none of which have ever been shown on the West Coast. On view until August, the exhibition will showcase the commercial billboards Wesselmann began painting in 1962.

 

‘Still Life #61,’ 1976, Oil on shaped canvas in 4 parts, 8’8.5″ x 32’7″ x 6’7″, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

Born in Cincinnati in 1931, Wesselmann was an influential figure in the Pop Art world, with his massive paintings that recontextualized images from popular culture, like the Volkswagen Beetle seen in ‘Still Life #29.’

“I used what was around me, so my culture was what I used,” he once said about his work.

Part of ‘The Standing Still Lifes’ series, the seven works in Wesselmann: 1963-1983 were a highlight in the artist’s long career. Comprised of multiple canvases shaped like the objects they depict and mounted on both the wall and the ground, the pieces are three-dimensional scenescapes that pull you into their world. Known primarily for his work that showcases the female figure, these paintings incorporate everyday objects in exaggerated sizes, exploring sexuality and surrealism in an emotional and experimental way.

 

‘Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette,’ 1981, Oil on shaped canvas in 4 parts, 9′ x 18’5″ x 5’6″, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

“Wesselmann is an artist well known for his forthright and original standpoint on sexuality,” explains Jason Ysenburg, Director at Gagosian, “but that is only a part of his story. In the ‘Still Lifes,’ ‘Standing Still Lifes’ and ‘Bedroom Paintings,’ we are offered a glimpse into an enchanted world where scale, content and the juxtaposition of materials and images is surprising and innovative,” he continues. “What transpires are a group of paintings where sexuality is often implied rather than overtly expressed.”

Since his death in 2004, Wesselmann’s work has become only more sought after, and has been included in multiple exhibitions at The Whitney and MoMA. This latest exhibition follows another recent showcase, Tom Wesselmann: Standing Still Lifes at Gagosian in New York.

 

Wesselmann: 1963-1983 is on view from July 12 to August 24 at Gagosian Beverly Hills.

 

Photos: ‘Still Life #29’ by Jeffrey Sturges; ‘Still Life #61’ & ‘Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette’ by Rob McKeever; all courtesy the Estate of Tom Wesselmann and Gagosian

Must See: ‘AfriCOBRA: Now’ at Kravets Wehby Gallery in Chelsea

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‘Spirit Sister,’ Nelson Stevens

 

In 1968, The Black Power Movement was at the height of its influence. Fighting for equality with a militant belief in self-sufficiency and acceptance, the movement encouraged radical thought and action for the Black community across the world. That same year, five members of the group came together to start their own movement: AfriCOBRA, or the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists, with the goal of using art to, well, change the world.

A new exhibition, AfriCOBRA: Now, at Kravets Wehby Gallery in Manhattan, brings together art from the group to showcase the work from these subversive artists who, until now, have been relatively unsung. Featuring pieces by its founding members and many others, including Kevin Cole, Adger Owens, Wadsworth Jarrell and Renee Stout, the exhibit shines a light on art from an era — and a group – in which nothing was more powerful than self-love. Through painting and sculpture, these AfriCOBRA artists celebrated African culture and examined their experiences as Black artists in an ever-changing culture. With AfriCOBRA:Now, their voices are finally being heard.

Preview some of our favorite pieces from the exhibit, below.

 

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‘AfriCOBRA: Now’ is on view at Kravets Wehby Gallery, 521 West 21st Street, now until August 16.

 

Photos courtesy of Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York.