In 2013, we’ve witnessed an unprecedented convergence of hip-hop and art. First there was Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby” music-video shoot this summer; then came Kanye West’s experimental Yeezus tour de force; and last night the two communities came together yet again, at NeueHouse in Manhattan, for a panel talk in celebration of the Wu-Tang’s twentieth anniversary, with Clan architect Oliver “Power” Grant and sculptor Tom Sachs. The latter is a longtime Wu disciple, who recalled listening to their records as a kid after Hebrew school in the nineties. Although the two couldn’t possibly be more different—Power was raised in the projects of Staten Island, a.k.a. “Shaolin,” while Sachs grew up in wealthy Westport, Connecticut—they found surprising common ground in “bringing the ruckus.” For example, they were both mischievous as kids. Sachs keyed his father’s BMW to make one of his first statements about consumerism, while Power ultimately decided to assemble and launch Wu-Tang because group leader RZA was locked up in jail and needed bail money, and he was on probation himself. According to Power (it’s worth noting that he never rapped with the group, focusing on business instead), “it was a form of desperation and inspiration” that caused them to “get past the corner” and start creating. Sachs agreed, saying that fear is the only thing that stops people from “creating your own reality and writing your own rules.”
Later in the evening, the conversation turned to consumerism, which remains a particular source of fascination for Sachs and informs many of his most famous works, such as Chanel Guillotine and Prada Deathcamp. Power quickly related: “I think that consumerism dictates what rap is and what it’s going to be, because that’s what it’s been doing.” He continued to discuss the origins of the Wu-Tang phoenix logo (“RZA was like, ‘Yo, I want my shit like Batman.’”) and the brand expansions that he has helped bring about, including Wu Wear clothing, the Wu-Tang video game, and even Wu Nails on Victory Boulevard, in Staten Island, which closed a few years ago. “Wu-Tang is forever going to be culturally relevant,” he said. “Even if we don’t have a record out, our brand is for real. This shit is like Coca-Cola now.”
In addition to their forthcoming album and reunion tour, the Clan’s major news is their Wu-Tang Hybrid Arts initiative, a.k.a. Wu Ha, which features works inspired by the Wu-Tang’s history (during the talk, several artists were live-painting portraits of different members such as Raekwon, ODB, and RZA), including Sachs’ combination ode to Wu-Tang Ladurée macarons. It will be displayed in a larger exhibition that opens at the Japanese American National Museum, in September 2014.
Last night in London, Christie’s South Kensington auction house played host to an exhibition and discussion orchestrated by the Fashion Illustration Gallery (FIG). And while the audience sat through the Issa London-sponsored talk, whose panel included Christie’s Meredith Etherington-Smith, illustrator David Downton (whose work is pictured above, top left), and Style.com’s Tim Blanks, they were left wondering: Should astute art investors buy up fashion illustration in the same way the world should have snatched up early Basquiat or Koons? “Before Andy Warhol was Andy Warhol, he was a fashion illustrator,” said Etherington-Smith. “Fifty years ago, the art world debated whether photography was a bona fide art form, and the same is happening now with fashion illustration. I believe there is no doubt fashion illustration is an art, but a vastly underappreciated one.”
The art on display last night represented the old guard like Cecil Beaton, Antonio Lopez (above, bottom left), and Andy Warhol, as well as such new talents as Gary Card (above, top right), Zoë Taylor (above, bottom right), and Tanya Ling. Strange bedfellows? Not according to Downton. “Some of the younger fashion illustrators out there are the most skilled draftsmen,” he said. “They very much should take their place alongside the great artists of days gone.”
Among the questions thrown out to an audience that included Suzy Menkes, Camilla Al Fayed, and Susie Bubble: Will fashion illustration ever be accepted as an art form? And will magazine editors ever replace celebs for illustrations? Downton, perhaps, answered these queries best. “The illustration I did a few years back of Cate Blanchett for Australian Vogue was, against all odds, the fastest-selling issue of the year. It also won the Maggie’s Magazine Cover of the Year. After that, there was no doubt for me that there is a place in the art world for fashion illustration.”
FIG’s exhibition at Christie’s South Kensington runs through December 19.
Looks like Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus have something in common after all. “XO,” one of the seventeen videos included on Mrs. Carter’s new self-titled album that caused the Internet to combust after its surprise release on Friday, was directed by Terry Richardson—yes, the same Terry Richardson responsible for Cyrus’ nude ride on a wrecking ball. However, starring models Jourdan Dunn and Jessica White and shot on Coney Island, Bey’s vid, while tastefully gritty, is predictably more highbrow. Have a watch, above.
The 2014 Golden Globe nominees were announced today, and it looks like 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle—two movies that deftly capture two very different moments in American history—are the top contenders. With seven nominations each, the dramatic films are neck-and-neck competitors for Golden Globe (and, most likely, Oscar) glory.
Other notable nods in the Best Motion Picture lineup include blockbuster hits Gravity and Captain Phillips, as well as the Venice Film Festival winner for Best Screenplay, Philomena. Upcoming films Her and The Wolf of Wall Street also made the cut, rounding out a list of dramas and tearjerkers.
And let’s not forget our favorite (and most stylish) leading men and ladies. Cate Blanchett received a Best Actress nod for her role in Woody Allen’s acclaimed Blue Jasmine. (Her character’s collection of Chanel jackets may or may not deserve its own award.) Leonardo DiCaprio is nominated for Best Actor for The Wolf of Wall Street, and rising red-carpet star Lupita Nyong’o is up for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 12 Years a Slave. Jennifer Lawrence’s turn as a sexy housewife in American Hustle also earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Lawrence will likely step out in Dior for the awards show, but we’re really feeling the messy updos and plunging halter dresses she wears in the film.
See the full list of nominees below, and tune into NBC on Sunday, January 12, to see our favorite funny girls Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host the show live.
Last year, Gill Linton launched Byronesque.com, a comprehensive Web site that, backed by Andrew Rosen and the late Marvin Traub, offers high-end vintage wares and sharp editorials. The online platform boasts a veritable treasure trove of rare, authenticated vintage designs, like an azure Jean Paul Gaultier frock, an asymmetrical Yohji Yamamoto dress, and a bevy of Thierry Mugler and Alaïa. And while it all looks spectacular in one’s browser, Linton felt she should create an IRL experience with the digital destination’s best stock.
Enter the site’s first brick-and-mortar venture, Byronesque.com//Offline, an exhibition and boutique housed in the dilapidated annex of the James A. Farley Post Office in New York City. Offline is complete with video installations, melancholic wall art by Craig Ward, and a vault of approximately forty impeccably dressed mannequins. Yesterday evening, insiders gathered to fete the project, which was punctuated with a live Polaroid photography session by the inimitable Michèle Lamy. “It’s difficult to [decide] what is mainstream or not…but being here feels real, and what they are trying to do is very important,” Lamy said of the site.
“There’s so much potential in vintage fashion,” said Linton. “It’s made better, there’s a story behind it, and there’s a history behind it. The way I merchandise the store is through storytelling—there’s a curve of Vivienne Westwood from Pirate to Seditionaries, for example—but it’s not that it has to be a linear progression. It’s about the energy of stuff.”
The stuff on display includes a 1984 John Galliano men’s kimono coat from his graduate Central Saint Martins collection, Les Incroyables (not for sale); a burlap Alexander McQueen look from F/W ’02; a 1986 Azzedine Alaïa leather zip dress; and a Katharine Hamnett allover marijuana-leaf-print bodysuit.
Glenn O’Brien lent his support by co-hosting the affair. “Everybody mixes vintage in,” he said, “I can’t tell you how long I’ve had this Kilgour, French, & Stanbury coat; it must be twenty years since I bought it at Barneys. Vintage is kind of where the next ideas come from. You can be a step ahead by wearing something that’s so out that it’s just about ready to come back.”
Byronesque.com//Offline will open to the public on December 12 and run through the 15th. Located at the James A. Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue at West 31st Street, the show will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.