The 7 Most Stylish Artists

Photo: Karl Lagerfeld in the Library © Stefan Strumbel, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

We know artists for their work, for the visions they manifest and share with the world. While their names are often familiar, only a few are known by sight, for their sartorial choices that not only mark them as individuals but often influence the look of the times.

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An artist’s style is as personal as the work they create, revealing a glimpse into their character, the way they see themselves and the way they wish to be perceived. Crave has compiled a list of 7 of the most stylish artists of the times, along with a selection of new books and exhibitions available this Fall.

Petra Collins, Coming of Age

Petra Collins

At the age of 25, Petra Collins has established herself as fashion photography’s IT girl, has her own incredible look that combines Lolita with 1970s glam. She first burst on the scene ten years ago, a breath of fresh air representing the feminine energy of Millennials. She is equally at ease in front of and behind the camera, giving us a glimpse of the new ways in which photography is becoming a language spoken by people all around the globe.

In her new book, Coming of Age (Rizzoli New York), Collins presents a selection of self-portraits along with photographs of personal friends Selena Gomez, Zendaya, and Kim Kardashian, along with teens as they come of age. “I’m used to being told by society at I must regulate my body to fit the norm,” Collins writes, revealing her instinctive decision to rebel against external controlling devices.

Collins’ aesthetic takes the known and pushes it beyond the shallow, contrived archetypes in order to reclaim beauty as something far more complex, both engaging with traditional forms and expanding the boundaries of fashion, youth, and sexuality. “Sometimes I take photos just to hold on. Which is why I think it’s strange to criticize people for taking photos of themselves,” Collins writes, revealing the curious disconnect between the voracious desire to consume photographs of women created by men – versus those created by women.

© Self-Portrait by Karl Lagerfeld.

Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld does it all, from fashion to photography, as well as run 7L, his own book imprint published by Steidl. The man who once made fans a regular part of his look, slimmed down and became the picture of elegance and sophistication. At the age of 84, Lagerfeld has become a paragon of style and elegance, with his trademark white ponytail, black sunglasses, crisp white shirt, and slim fitting suits that cut a dashing silhouette.

After more than 40 years in the business, he’s still going strong with the forthcoming book, Paris Photo, which presents Lagerfeld’s personal favorites from the most important photography fair in the world, which opens on Thursday, November 9.

Andy Warhol c. 1972 Color Print 3 1/2 x 4 7/8 inches © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Andy Warhol

Way back when Largerfeld was dressed like a New Romantic haunting the hallowed halls of Studio 54, Andy Warhol made the blazer, white button-down shirt, and jeans a look, wearing this outfit anywhere that didn’t require a tuxedo. It was as much a uniform as a statement all its own, one that broke the rules, introducing casual chic to the world.

Warhol loved a uniform, much like he loved The Factory: for its ability to synthetsize art in the age of mass reproduction and simplify life to its basic necessities. More than just about anyone else, he embraced the plasticity of modern life and the ways in which technology could offer new solutions to age old questions and offer radical new interpretations of the nature of art.

Andy took to the Polaroid, enthralled with its ability to produce photographs with just one touch, creating a singular body of work that speaks to a love of the camera’s ability to record the world. In celebration, Taschen has just released a book of his Polaroids made between 1958-1967. Spanning the length of Warhol’s career, we watch Warhol’s story unfold in a selection of photographs that capture the zeitgeist of the second half of the twentieth century, with shots of everyone from Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, and David Bowie to Muhammad Ali, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring.

Jasper Johns, Flag, 1958. Encaustic on canvas. 105.1 x 154.9 cm. Private collection © Jasper Johns / VAGA, New York / DACS, London 2017. Photo: Jamie Stukenberg © The Wildenstein Plattner Institute, 2017

Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns, the man who made the American flag a work of art, had a taste for classic fashion (denim shirt, white t-shirt, and jeans), introducing the all-American look to the art world during the mid-1950s. A native of Georgia, raised in South Carolina, Johns arrived in New York in 1948, before serving in the Korean War for two years.

When he returned to New York in 1953, he immediately became a fixture in the art world and his career took off rather quickly. By integrating familiar objects and symbols in his wok, Johns established a decisive new direction in American art. Rather than follow the existing trends of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, Johns struck out on a path all his own.

Now 87, Johns is being honored with a major exhibition, Something Resembling the Truth, at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, on view through December 10. The exhibition will be traveling to The Broad, Los Angeles, opening in February 2018 – accompanied by a catalogue of the same name, which will be published on November 21).

Self Portrait, 20 March 2012 (1219), 2012, David Hockney, iPad drawing printed on paper, mounted on Dibond. 32 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist. © David Hockney

David Hockney

David Hockney, who is being widely celebrated in his 80th year, has always had a flair for British sartorial style, with his great thatch of white hair, use of bold color and prints, and mixed with classic pieces like hats and Harry Potter spectacles.

In celebration of a life in art, numerous exhibitions and books are coming out this year. On November 27, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, will open the largest retrospective of his career – which launched earlier this year at the Tate, London. This month is also your last chance to see Happy Birthday Mr. Hockney, a series of two exhibitions currently on view at The Getty, Los Angeles, on view now through November 26.

But if you can’t make it out to see the shows, not to worry – Thames & Hudson is publishing several glorious monographs detailing various aspects of the artist’s six-decade career, including David Hockney by Marco Livingstone, releasing November 21 as well as Hockney’s Pictures, Hockney’s Portraits and People by Marco Livingstone and Kay Hemer, and A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney by Martin Gayford.

Kehinde Wiley

Celebrated American artist Kehinde Wiley made headlines last month when he tapped by the Obamas to paint their official portraits. Wiley’s art of perfectly describes the times: it is bold, beautiful, and beguiling, taking us to the point of no return like a classic 1980s song. It is the pure pleasure of the painted surface taken to new heights, situating it amongst the masterpieces of European art and giving it a distinctive twist that reflects Wiley’s contemporary California roots.

Born in Los Angles in 1977, Wiley earned his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1999 and his MFA from Yale in 2001, immediately followed by a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem, which launched him on the New York stage and introducing him to the world.

The grandeur of a Wiley painting rivals that of all whom have ever held the brush, undertaking large-scale canvases to transformative effect. Over the past fourteen years, Wiley has taken the art world by storm with his fresh, fly, and fearless style that redefines the iconography of power and prestige, casting black men and women in the works of masters including Titian, Anthony Van Dyck, Edouard Manet, Hans Memling, Jacques-Louis David, and Peter Paul Rubens.

Like his art, Wiley has a great sense of personal style, evident in abundance on his Instagram, which combines a personal flair for suits along with a more sporty look, whether fishing in Guyana or painting in his studio.

Laurie Anderson performing “The Language of the Future” at transmediale 2017 ever elusive. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Laurie Anderson

Rounding out the list is Laurie Anderson, one of the most revered contemporary artists, fusing music, performance, literature, and film into a new way of experiencing art that has made her a legend. Her iconic style: spiked hair, men’s wear, and a rock & roll attitude is as refreshing as her art.

Anderson just opened an exhibition of her work as Mass MOCA that allows visitors to experience her virtual reality realms firsthand. The installations, titled Chalkroom and Aloft, are majestic immersive experiences that will transport audiences into new realms, revealing the power of multi-media to create realities previously untold.

Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.


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