6 Days to Halloween: Twisted Fashion Photography

Hi everyone! Fashion photography at its….strangest? Miles Aldridge’s work isn’t necessarily “Halloween” material, but I find strangeness and uniqueness, and even a taste of the macabre, in his fashion photography which is why including him in this year’s countdown. He just had a show in LA titled The Pure Wonder at the Fahey/Klein gallery which I, unfortunately, just missed.

I’m including some images of his work and please visit an LA Times article about him here and to visit his website, go here to view more of his phenomenal work. Enjoy!

‘Til next time!

From The Pure Wonder exhibit 2015

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I Only Want You to Love Me #4 (featured in his exhibition of the same name in 2013)

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From the Vogue Italia spread titled “Like a Movie” based on the movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, 2010

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Servin Candorville in the Black Ground

Today I conclude Black Artists Week. I had so much fun looking up different artists, and learning about them, that I’m somewhat sad it’s over. It makes me wish I had taken an Art History class in college!

I wish you all a wonderful weekend and I’ll be back next week with a new topic! ‘Till next time!

1. Michael Ray Charles (1967- )

Born in 1967, Michael Ray Charles was born in Lafayette, LO and spent most of his childhood growing up in Los Angeles, CA, New Orleans, LO and St. Martinville, LO. He studied design and advertising at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LO before getting a BFA degree. He got his MFA from University of Houston, Houston, TX and began teaching at the University of Texas at Austin, TX in 1993. His work and research is rooted in analyzing historic racial stereotypes of African Americans both in how American history views African Americans and how they view themselves as a result of demeaning stereotypes. He often employs black caricatures and stereotypes such as Aunt Jemima and Uncle Tom to comment on current racial attitudes. He is no stranger to controversy but always has supporters and hailed as daring for pushing people to question society. He has been involved in numerous documentaries including Spike Lee’s “Bamboozled” in 2000 of which he was the subject. He continues to exhibit in national and international venues. He lives with his family in Austin, TX. (For more information, please visit here.)

Here is one of Charles’ caricatures from his fictitious product line called Forever Free. This is titled “Servin with a smile” (1994):

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Another from his Forever Free series, #9, (1997):

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2. Julie Mehretu (1970- )

Julie Mehretu was born in 1970 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and is best known for her heavily layered abstract paintings and prints. She was the first child of an Ethiopian college professor and an American teacher who all fled the country in 1977 and moved to East Lansing, Michigan where her father got a teaching position at Michigan State University. Her art overlays different architectural features such as columns and facades with different geographical schema like charts or building plans and shows them from different perspectives: aerial, cross-section and isometric. For example, her Mogamma: A Painting in Four Parts (2012) is four giant canvases that relates to “Al-Mogamma” which is the name of the all-purpose government building in Tahrir Square, Cairo which was where the 2011 revolution occurred and architecturally symbolizes Egypt’s post-colonial past. She has had many solo exhibitions in museums such as the Guggenheim in New York, NY, the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, Germany, and in London, England, just to name a few. She continues to work and lives in New York City with her partner, Jessica Rankin. (For more information, please visit here.)

Here is the 1st Panel of Mogamma: A Painting in Four Parts (2012):

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All four panels of Mogamma seen together:

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Merehtu’s Black Ground (2006, ink and acrylic on canvas):

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3. Darrin Bell (1975- )

Born in Los Angeles, CA on January 27, 1975, Darrin Bell started drawing when he was 3. He’s been published in the Daily Californian since 1993 and was an editorial cartoonist during the 1990s for the Los Angeles Times and other California newspapers. He is the first African American to have two comic strips syndicated nationally. His cartoon Candorville can be found in the Los Angeles Times (and I will occasionally read it when I have time and not working on my show). Bell is also a storyboard artist and he lives in Los Angeles, CA. (For more information, please visit here and here.)

Here is one of Bell’s books; the cover is a great example of his art:

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A plug for his other comic strip, Rudy Park:

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A Skull and a Snake Man Seek a Mode of Transport

Happy Thursday! Artists continued…

1. Fred Wilson (1954- )

Fred Wilson was born in 1954 (no birth date given) in The Bronx and is an alumnus of the famous Music & Art High School in New York. He received his BFA from SUNY Purchase in 1976 where he was the only black student in the program. Wilson’s subject is social justice and his medium is museology (working at a museum and organizing exhibitions). In the 1970s, he worked as a freelance museum educator for the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Crafts Museum. He would address the issue of how museums consciously or unconsciously reinforced racist beliefs and behaviors. What an interesting way to contribute to the world of art! (For more information, please visit here.)

This would’ve been a great exhibit to see! Modes of Transport (1770-1910) on display 1992-1993 in Baltimore, MD.

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Interesting and definitely odd. (To me, at least.) Fred Wilson’s own art titled Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! (blown glass and marbles, 2006):

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2. Alison Saar (1956- )

Born on February 5, 1956 in Los Angeles, CA, Alison Saar grew up in Laurel Canyon, California. She and her two sisters were strongly encouraged by their artist parents to look at a wide range of art via books and museums. Her sculpture and installations focus on themes of African cultural diaspora and spirituality. She has been exhibited internationally as well as at UCLA’s Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Los Angeles, Phyllis Kind Gallery in New York City, and Pasadena Museum of California Art. (For more information, please visit here.)

Here is a color woodcut and lithograph titled Snake Man (1994):

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Here is a sculpture titled Weight (2012):

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3. Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)

Born a Haitian American, Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960 in Brooklyn, NY and showed artistic promise from an early age. His mother familiarized him with the world of art by taking him and his two siblings to museums around New York City. She also enrolled him in the Brooklyn Museum of Art. By the age of four, he knew how to read and write and those around him could see his artistic talent. By age 11, he could fluently speak, read and write French, Spanish and English. Basquiat first gained attention in 1976 as a graffiti artist with his friend, Al Diaz, spray-painting buildings in Lower Manhattan under the pseudonym SAMO. Their friendship and, subsequently, the graffiti art ended in 1979. In addition to his art, Basquiat became involved in television and even formed a noise rock band called Test Pattern, later renamed Gray, and performed in various clubs around town including CBGB and the Mudd Club. In 1980, Basquiat met Andy Warhol and presented him with some of his work, instantly impressing him. They would eventually collaborate on some art. His art focused on “suggestive dichotomies,” such as “wealth vs poverty” or “integration vs segregation.” He used poetry, drawing and painting, marrying text and image, abstraction and figuration, and used historical information and mixed it with contemporary critique. He was able to enjoy success; however, his heroin addiction got the better of him and began to interfere with personal relationships. When Andy Warhol died on February 22, 1987, Basquiat had trouble reconciling the death and sunk deeper into depression and his addiction. At the age of 27, Basquiat died of a heroin overdose at his art studio in New York City’s NoHo neighborhood on August 12, 1988. (For more information, please visit here and here.)

This piece is Untitled, made with acrylic, oilstick and spray paint on canvas (1981):

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This is also Untitled (Skull) (1984):

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Refugees Sail in a Vessel to Good Times

Continuing our week with artists…

1. Robert Blackburn (1920-2003)

Born on December 10, 1920 in Summit, NJ to Jamaican parents, Blackburn grew up in Harlem. His artwork has always been more abstract and, in 1948, he opened up the Printmaking Workshop in New York City. In 1956, however, the shop was struggling financially and was saved by becoming a cooperative with annual dues. In 1992, he, Will Barnet and Chaim Koppelman received a New York Artists Equity Award for their service and dedication to the printmaking community. He died on April 21, 2003 in New York City and later that year, in September, the Great Hall of Cooper Union in New York City held an exhibition and memorial to honor him. (For more information, please visit here.)

Here is lithograph by Blackburn titled Refugees (1939):

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And here is a painting titled Girl in Red by Blackburn (1950):

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2. Ernie Barnes (1938-2009)

Ernest “Ernie” Eugene Barnes, Jr. was born July 15, 1938 in Durham NC during the Jim Crow era. He was introduced to art and classical music through his mother who was head of household staff for prominent Durham attorney Frank Fuller, Jr. She would bring him to work with her and he’d look through the art books and listen to classical music in the study. By junior high, he could decode many of the great masterpieces hanging in museums but he himself couldn’t visit them because he was black. Growing up, he often felt like an outcast and would find refuge in his art. He was found one day drawing by the high school weightlifting coach and former athlete who talked him into becoming a football player. Barnes would eventually go on to play professional football, but always had his hand in art. One of his signature styles is the elongation of the human figure. Also, a consistent and distinct feature in his art is that his subjects’ eyes are closed. In addition, he did numerous album covers for musicians such as Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. (For more information, please visit here and here.)

Here is the album cover for Marvin Gaye’s 1976 album Sugar Shack:

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The album cover for B.B. King’s 2000 album Making Love is Good for You titled In Rapture:

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Can’t you just hear the guitar playing? This is titled Good Times:

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And some sports art:

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3. Martin Puryear (1941- )

Born in Washington D.C. on May 23, 1941, Puryear works with wood, stone, tar and wire, and his art unites minimalism and traditional crafts, a medium in which he’s worked since his youth where he learned how to build guitars and furniture. He studied printmaking in Sweden in the 1960s and went to Yale in 1968 for graduate school where he studied sculpture. In 1978, he moved to Chicago for 12 years and it was during his time there that he began to get noticed internationally. His art is very impressive and psychological. (For more information, please visit here.)

Here is a sculpture Puryear built titled Ladder for Booker T. Washington (1996). It is made from wood; a single sapling split down the middle. Wow:

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And hear is another sculpture by Puryear, titled Vessel made from pine, mesh and tar (1997-2002):

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Quilting to Crayon to Harlem Renaissance

This week is ART! Well, artists, to be exact. As in the previous weeks, this wasn’t such an easy task. So I started with those born in the later part of the 1800s and will go through the 1970s, taking each day to focus on about a 20-30 year block. Also, as in the previous weeks, I feel like I don’t do justice to these phenomenal African American artists so I sort of picked at random and if the art grabbed me, and the artist fit in the decade of the day, I chose him/her. I did try to focus on women artists.

Today I have six artists I will present instead of the usual three. I hope you like the picks.

‘Till next time!

1. Harriet Powers (1837-1910)

Harriet Powers was a slave, folk artist and quilt maker born on October 29, 1837 in Georgia. As often was tradition, she used quilts to record local legends, Bible stories and astronomical events. Only two of her quilts have survived and are used as examples of 19th Century Southern quilting. Her work is on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA. (For more information, please visit here.)

Here is one of two of Powers’ surviving quilts titled Bible Quilt, mixed media, 1886:

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And here is the other surviving quilt titled Pictorial Quilt, mixed media, 1898:

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2. Mary A. Bell (1873-1941)

Born July 2, 1873 in Washington, D.C. and, unfortunately, not much of her early life is known. She worked menial jobs when young and received no formal training. She was in her sixties when her crayon artwork became known to the general public, thanks to author Gertrude Stein, writer and photographer Carl Van Vechten, publicist Mark Lutz, critic Henry McBride and artist Florine Stettheimer. Her drawings depict scenes from the everyday life of the rich, as well as Creole or African American subjects. Bell was troubled by mental illness and was committed to a mental health facility in Boston in 1940, a year before she died from heart failure. Personally, I found her art fascinating and somewhat reminiscent of Picasso. (For more information, please visit here.)

Here is Bell’s artwork titled The Lost Chord:

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And here is Bell’s artwork titled American Mixtures of the Ethiopian Race:

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3. Palmer C. Hayden (1890-1973)

Born on January 15, 1890, Palmer C. Hayden was a painter who depicted African American life, one of the first in America to do so. He always wanted to be a fiddle player and his whole life regretted never pursuing this dream. His family couldn’t afford a fiddle and he later was too timid to try and become one. When he began to pursue a career in art, he encountered racism when seeking to become an artist’s assistant and not getting the job because he was black. He would work various jobs while pursuing art and would eventually reach success and popularity in Europe, where he studied in Paris, before gaining any kind of recognition in the U.S. Most of Hayden’s work after Paris focused on the African American experience capturing rural life as well as urban backgrounds in New York City, usually set in Harlem. He died on February 18, 1973. (For more information, please visit here.)

Here is Hayden’s piece titled People Who Studied Abroad #349:

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Here is Hayden’s piece titled Baltimore:

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4. Aaron Douglas (1898-1979)

Born on May 26, 1898 in Topeka, Kansas, Douglas moved to New York City after college and settled in Harlem. He was a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance. His work during the 1930s is considered to be his most important and include his murals at Fisk University and at the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library (now the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). In 1939, he moved to Nashville, TN where he founded the Art Department at Fisk University and taught there for 27 years. His art shifted to a more traditional painting style, including portraits and landscapes. (For more information, please visit here.)

Here is Douglas’ Harriet Tubman Mural (1930-31):

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Here is Douglas’ painting Power Plant, Harlem, 1939:

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5. Beauford Delaney (1901-1979)

Born on December 30, 1901 in Knoxville, TN, Beauford Delaney to a prominent and respected family in Knoxville’s black community. He showed an interest in art at an early age, constantly drawing. At 23, he moved north to Boston to study art and eventually settled in Harlem at the time of the Harlem Renaissance. He would use members of Harlem, a disenfranchised community, as his subjects. In 1953, at the age of 52, Delaney moved to Paris and remained in Europe until his death in 1979 He suffered from mental illness, as well as alcohol abuse, and was eventually committed to St. Anne’s Hospital for the Insane in Paris where he died on March 26, 1979. (For more information, please visit here.)

Here is Delaney’s Can Fire in the Park (1946), considered to be work that vacillates between “representation and abstraction;” a style that evolved during the 1940s:

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And here is Delaney’s Self-Portrait, oil on canvas, 1944:

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6. Mildred Thompson (1936-2003)

Mildred Thompson was born in 1936 in Jacksonville, FL and her formal art training began in 1953 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She would later study in Germany at the Art Academy of Hamburg where she and her art were well-received. Back in the U.S., she didn’t get the social and artistic acceptance she did in Germany and was refused shows and exhibitions because she was black. She returned to Germany. In 1975, she returned to the US and the social climate had somewhat changed for black artists. After a brief return to Paris in 1981, she moved to Atlanta, GA in 1986 where she remained until she died. (For more information, please visit here.)

I’m not sure if I have the correct titles of the artwork I chose because the information is very spotty, but I’m giving what is written next to the art. Here is Thompson’s Music of the Spheres: Jupiter:

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Here is Thompson’s Stock Photo #1147-359, Heliocentric:

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