The foremost fashion illustrator of the 1970s and 80s, Antonio (as he signed his work) was and remains one of the most highly regarded and influential figures in the fashion world. While not initially known as a photographer, Antonio Lopez, who was born in 1943 in Porto Rico and died in 1987 in Los Angeles, was rarely without his favorite Instamatic camera, and as his career progressed he turned increasingly to photography to create fashion stories, portraits, and elaborate mise-en-scènes featuring celebrities and his daily encounters.
An exhibition on view in New York – the first to focus exclusively on Antonio’s photographs – features a selection of Instamatic prints from the 1970s that were his photographic form. Developed and printed by Kodak, these prints were either mounted by Antonio or stored in the original yellow Kodak envelopes that the film was processed and delivered in. As Antonio never sent the negatives back for re-printing each print is unique.
While primarily known for his fashion illustrations, Antonio did not treat his photographs lightly, assembling them in grids and pairs to create dynamic and visceral patterns. While also the prints may superficially resemble Andy Warhol’s Polaroids because of their size and period, Antonio’s Kodak prints are a burst of energy to Warhol’s more classical studies. While Warhol’s Polaroids were mostly the basis for future painted portraits, Antonio’s photographs were an end to themselves.
As the writer Karin Nelson noted: “Lopez brilliantly transformed the women in his world. Under his tutelage, Jerry Hall, a long tall Texan he met at Paris’s Club Sept, evolved into a golden goddess. He put Jessica Lange in gold lamé evening dresses after discovering her in Paris studying mime, and gave aspiring model Tina Lutz her start (and an introduction to future husband Michael Chow); and, by spotlighting Pat Cleveland, a mixed-race model with a theatrical streak, he helped break down the color barrier in high fashion.”
A documentary entitled Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion, and Disco is slated for release in the fall of 2018. Written, produced and directed by James Crump, the film covers his colorful and often outrageous milieu and features Jessica Lange, Grace Jones, Grace Coddington, Karl Lagerfeld, Juan Ramos, Bill Cunningham, Yves Saint Laurent, among others.
March 8 – April 28, 2018
95 Rivington St
New York, NY 10002