The annual Art Basel show kicks off this week in Hong Kong before it heads to Miami and Basel later this year. With much of the art world abuzz with the start of the iconic show, we’ve turned our attentions recently to contemporary artists and have been intrigued by their work as well as their style. From the Basquiat to Hirst to Chagall, these artists have created some of the most influential pieces of art in the last century; and their style is just as diverse as their approach to art.
Jean-Michel Basquiat: The renowned New York graffiti artist has never been one to conform to the usual norms of society. As one of the first artists who popularised contemporary graffiti art, Basquait rose to fame in the late-70’s, when hip-hop, punk and art collided in truly electrifying ways. Much like his non-conformist art, Basquiat frequently broke the rules when it came to style, as is attested in this portrait of the artist. Peruse Basquiat’s prolific works of art and get in the mood to break some of your own style rules.
Kehinde Wiley: As one of today’s most respected living artists, Wiley’s work focuses on the use of colour and graphics, bringing together the worlds of art and graphic design. Much like his art, Wiley’s style also frequently features strong repetitive motifs in bright colours, in the form of embroidered jackets and patterned shirts.
Ryan McGinley: As one of our generation’s most iconic art photographers, McGinley has been praised for his exploration of the relationship between humanity and the world around us, through his work which was first exhibited at the Whitney Museum at the tender young age of just 25. As the young maverick of the photography world, McGinley has developed a style that mimics his youthful success, favouring leather jackets, skinny suits and an ever so slightly minimalist-grunge aesthetic.
Piet Mondrian: Mondrian’s work of the early 1900’s was defined by their linear structure, which allowed colours to vibrate against each other in a very regimented fashion. Much like his structured art work, Mondrian’s style was decidedly strict and impeccable; not a single wrinkle in sight or seam out of line. He preferred immaculately-fitted suits, shirts and ties. He wore round spectacles and kept a very neat moustache. If you prefer a look that’s perfectly put together, then look no further than Mondrian for inspiration.
Andy Warhol: A man who needs no introduction, Warhol defined the 60’s and 70’s with his iconic, colourful prints depicting American pop culture. While his work was always colourful, Warhol himself seldom wore colour, preferring to stick to a monochromatic palette. He favoured a good turtleneck, which he usually wore with denim and a minimalist jacket layered on top. His hair was rather iconic, being platinum blonde and always worn in a messy shag style. We like to think of Warhol as one of the early proponents of the American minimalist-‘sportswear’ style, which designers such as Calvin Klein later brought into fashion in the 90’s.
Damien Hirst: Described by many as the “bad boy” of contemporary art, Damien Hirst is perhaps must known for his sculpture of a contortionist Kate Moss or the printed skull motif scarves he designed for Alexander McQueen. His rebellious artwork is reflected in his own personal style, which often features head-to-toe black, accented by silver accessories, reminiscent of a British rock star.
Yves Klein: Known for his prolific use of what is now referred to as “Klein Blue”, Yves Klein’s style was typically tailored, but in a relaxed way and often with a sense of ‘devil may care’ attitude. He wasn’t fussed if his tie was crooked or his suit was wrinkled. He made the effort to put on a suit, but didn’t much care if it was worn properly and neatly. If you prefer a relaxed fit suit done in easy fabrics such as cotton and linen, then look no further than to Mr. Klein for inspiration. It wouldn’t hurt to add a pop of Klein Blue in there somewhere as a homage to the artist.
Jeff Koons: Perhaps the most successful living contemporary artist of our time, Jeff Koons has made a name of himself in the art world creating curious objects, such as gigantic “balloon” dog sculptures in bright colours and mirrored materials. Though his work is large-scale and colourful, Koons’ style is much more understated and minimalist. He is often seen in a slim suit and crisp white shirt, sans necktie or any other accessories. He would be a great inspiration to anyone favouring a thoroughly pared-back aesthetic.
Marc Chagall: Chagall’s work was full of whimsy and, so too, was his style. Though he stuck to classics such as shirts and suits, he always picked interested textiles, colours and patterns over simple solids or banal tones. Think of his style as quintessentially French, with a touch of fantasy. Get lost in the mesmerising fantasy of a Chagall painting and then think about how to bring that same sensibility to your wardrobe.
Takashi Murakami: Beloved for his bright, colourful and fun “happy flowers” sculptures and prints, Murakami has won the hearts of both the art and fashion world, having worked on iconic collaborations with Louis Vuitton and Kanye West. Much like his optimistic artwork, Takashi’s style also exudes a sense of happiness and joy. He isn’t afraid to experiment with colour, texture or print. Though his style is ecclectic and varied, one thing always remains: his signature circular frame glasses. Takashi is a reminder to us all to have fun with style.