Props Rock: Jean-Michel Basquiat

Although he passed in 1988, Jean-Michel Basquiat's  artistic prowess is still recognized today.The Brooklyn born artist was initially recognized for his graffiti that used the walls of Brooklyn and Manhattan as canvas. He eventually moved on to painting and began to create work that drew on pieces from contemporary culture. Recently, director Tamra Davis payed homage to her friend in a documentary entitled "The Radiant Child" in which she utilized archival footage and interviews with Basquiat to give viewers a more intimate look at the artist. Below is a trailer for the movie:
The fashion industry has also paid homage to the late artist with magazines such as Vogue Hommes International using his personal style and work as inspiration for editorials.
Vogue Hommes International, March 2010.
To mark Basquiat's 50th birthday, the Beyeler Foundation in the Swiss city of Basel in collaboration with the Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris will open a retrospective of his work. The retrospective will be first displayed in Basel until September 5, 2010. Then it will be moved to Paris where it will be displayed there from October 15, 2010- January 30, 2011.
This line drawing of boxer Cassius Clay will be on display.
Below is some more of Basquiat's work:
Zydeco, 1984
“Untitled (Pecho/Oreja)”, 1982-1983
Skull, 1981
His work is praised for its creativity and complexity, but for Jean-Michel Basquiat art was simple. "I start a picture and I finish it. I don't think about art while I work. I try to think about life," Basquiat once said.
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Props Rock: Willi Smith

I come from a frugal, not cheap family. Trust me, there is a difference. My mother and I enjoy going to off-price stores like Marshall's and TJ Maxx in order to find what we call "hidden treasures". Out of all of my various trips to off-price stores along the east coast there is one trip that I distinctly remember. My mother and I went to a TJ Maxx store in Maryland when I was in middle school. I remember looking around in the women's wear section and noticing some clothing by a designer named Willi Smith. The first thing I thought was, "Since when did Will Smith have a clothing line?" Then I thought that they had spelled his name wrong. Later that night, I looked the name "Willi Smith" up online and learned that before the "Fresh Prince" inspired people worldwide to get "Jiggy Wit It" there was another man who showed us how to dress in Big Willie Style. Philadelphia born fashion designer Willi Smith, who is unrelated to the "Fresh Prince", has been referred to as "the most successful black designer in fashion history." When it came to his work as a designer Smith preferred to be known more for his raw talent than his skin color. Although he would admit that his skin color gave him few advantages, he would often be annoyed by the attention given to him based on it. Willi Smith was known for his use of brightly colored fabrics that were comfortable, loose-fitting, and moderately priced. In 1976 he co-founded his company "Williwear" with Laurie Mallet. Although his clientele include the wealthy by the early 1980s, Williwear had grown to become a popular clothing line in youth culture and was referred to as "street couture". Willi Smith died unexpectedly in 1987 at the age of 39 after contracting shigella and pneumonia while on a trip to India. His death was determined as a result of AIDS. Willi Smith once said, "Models pose in clothes. People live in them." According to Richard Martin, there were "countless fans of his sportswear style who may never have known-or care- whether he was Black, White or any other color". The style Willi Smith was accurately summarized in his obituary in the Village Voice which said that his clothing expressed, "the designer's democratic urge: to clothe people as simply, beautifully and inexpensively as possible". Now when I go to TJ Maxx I am proud that I know about the designer, not the rapper,  Willi Smith. Flashback: Black Style: Willi Smith
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The “Props Rock” Series: Alexa Meade

This is the second in our "Props Rock" series. I think the title explains it all. The purpose of this series is to give props to people who we think rock. After the discovering the work of Washington, D.C. based artist Alexa Meade I decided that she rocks and warranted some props. It also helped that she's from D.C. which gave me a bit of hometown pride. Her technique is visually different than anything I've seen before. She paints on three dimensional surfaces, live models, and architectural spaces. On her website Meade writes, "Essentially, my art imitates life-on top of life. For example, with Portrait of a Self-Portrait you are simultaneously looking at a portrait I painted of myself, a photo I took of myself, and at me."
"Portrait of A Self Portrait"
Meade's Work
Meade's Work
Meade's Work
If you are in the New York area check out Alexa Meade's art show at Postmasters Gallery on Friday, April 2nd, 2010.
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The “Props Rock” Series: Keith Haring

This is the first entry of our new “Prop Rocks” series. The “Prop Rocks” series does exactly what it implies; it gives props to artists that rock. In this series I will feature artists with a truly unique vision and individual style. I wanted to start this new series by celebrating the work of artist Keith Haring. Today is the anniversary of the proclaimed artist’s death. Haring is remembered for creating work that expresses concepts of birth, death, love, sex and war by utilizing colorful graphics with sharp, defined lines. His work can be found in galleries all over the world and in collaborations with other artists and designers.

In 1988 Keith Haring was diagnosed with AIDS; and in 1989 he established the Keith Haring Foundation which provided funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children’s programs.  Sadly, Keith Haring died of AIDS related complications at the age of 31 on February 16, 1990.

Keith Haring
Haring's Work
Haring's Work
Haring's Work
Tommy Hilfiger X Keith Haring Collection for Kids. Find it in Collette's Eshop: http://www.colette.fr
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