El Museo Del Barrio: A Tribute to Prolific Illustrator Antonio Lopez


W’s Ally Betker reports on a forthcoming exhibit at El Museo Del Barrio with over 300 illustrations, photographs, and designs by Puerto Rican fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez. “Antonio Lopez: Future Funk Fashion” will open on June 14 and will be on view until November 26, 2016.

El Museo Del Barrio describes: “Fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez is the subject of a solo exhibition that features his drawings of many different kinds of garments, prototypes for fantasy shoes, his well-known instamatic photographs, portraits of various fashion world luminaries and archival photographs and various other objects. The artist’s daring exploration of race, gender and the body through fashion are key elements of the exhibition.”

Ally Betker writes: Even if you don’t know the name Antonio Lopez, you’ll surely recognize the people whose careers he helped launch: Grace Jones, Pat Cleveland, Jessica Lange, Jerry Hall, Bill Cunningham. Lopez was a fashion illustrator – notably for the New York Times and Women’s Wear Daily – but his influence goes well beyond his sketches. Through his work, he made significant strides in representing women and men of color in high fashion during the racially turbulent ’60s and ’70s.


On June 14th, “Antonio Lopez: Future Funk Fashion” will open at El Museo Del Barrio in New York, paying tribute to the artist’s three-decade career (he died at the age of 44 in 1987 of complications related to AIDS). “If you think about the time in which he was working, what was going on in the United States with race relations, with these subtle but powerful images, he was making a point,” says Amelia Malagamba-Ansotegui, a co-curator of the exhibit and a scholar who’s studied Lopez extensively. “He was really reaffirming and relocating the issues that were happening at the time,” Malagamba continues.

[. . .] And no matter the subject of his illustrations, his interest in the ethnic or racialized body always showed through. Malagamba points to a 1985 pencil and watercolor picture of a woman in an Oscar de la Renta gown. “It is a white woman, bowing like if she was in a beauty contest accepting the accolades, but historically you can see some other influences,” she says. “One, the flowers [she’s holding] have the quality of a Japanese painting.” Second is the influence of music – especially funk, soul, disco and Latino tunes. “When you see the figures that he draws you can see the kinetics…they’re not stationary. They’re not like paper dolls,” says Malagamba. “The current of music that he was listening to as he was creating is part of that process and the end results is these fantastic images full of movement and light. Those currents came from the African and Latino diaspora.”

For the exhibit, El Museo de Barrio gathered over 300 pieces of Lopez’s work, including drawings, Instamatic photographs, archival photographs and his shoe and clothing designs. He was prolific, to say the least, with an eye towards change. “He said, early on when he was in Paris, that the fashion illustration world had been very boring,” says Malagamba. “He brought such an energy, such a passion and joyfulness.”

For full article, see http://www.wmagazine.com/fashion/2016/06/antonio-lopez-el-museo-de-barrio/photos/

Also see http://www.elmuseo.org/upcoming-exhibitions/

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