What Artists Wear
An eye-opening and richly illustrated journey through the clothes worn by artists, and what they reveal to us.
From Yves Klein’s spotless tailoring to the kaleidoscopic costumes of Yayoi Kusama and Cindy Sherman, from Andy Warhol’s denim to Martine Syms’s joy in dressing, the clothes worn by artists are tools of expression, storytelling, resistance, and creativity.
In What Artists Wear, fashion critic and art curator Charlie Porter guides us through the wardrobes of modern artists: in the studio, in performance, at work or at play. For Porter, clothing is a way in: the wild paint-splatters on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s designer clothing, Joseph Beuys’s shamanistic felt hat, or the functional workwear that defined Agnes Martin’s life of spiritua labor. As Porter roams widely from Georgia O’Keeffe’s tailoring to David Hockney’s bold color blocking to Sondra Perry’s intentional casual wear, he weaves his own perceptive analyses with original interviews and contributions from artists and their families and friends.
Part love letter, part guide to chic, with more than 300 images, What Artists Wear offers a new way of understanding art, combined with a dynamic approach to the clothes we all wear. The result is a radical, gleeful inspiration to see each outfit as a canvas on which to convey an identity or challenge the status quo.
Praise for What Artists Wear
Porter treats his subjects as more than just 'style icons.'…[What Artists Wear is] a testament to their humanity: a response to the canon of deified white men, a reminder that all artists are mere mortals with bodies that need covering just like ours. What adorns the nonmale (Louise Bourgeois, Mary Manning), nonwhite (Tehching Hsieh, Alvaro Barrington) bodies in this book is as much self-expression as resistance.
— Lauren Christensen - New York Times Book Review
Eclectic [and] invigorating…The chapters of [What Artists Wear] devoted to female artists make for the most fascinating reading, their clothes liberating them by giving them permission to be different.
— Rachel Cooke - Observer
Brilliant, loving, visually incisive.
— Hilton Als, author of White Girls
A liberation and a joy, beautifully written and brilliantly thought. What Artists Wear is at once a revelatory account of how art is made and an electrifying investigation into the relationship between clothes and autonomy, freedom, and power.
— Olivia Laing, author of Everybody
A fascinating exploration of the clothing worn by the rebels, rule breakers and outliers of the artistic world, and what it means to live in it.…Porter’s curiosity for the subject is infectious.
— Catherine Hayward - Esquire
An insightful account of the clothes sported by modern and contemporary artists.…Whether offering visual analysis or social observation, [Porter] writes with clarity and wit.
— Chloë Ashby - Frieze
Unique, intelligent, and enlightening, super interesting and so well researched. It is rare indeed to come across a book that not only captures the imagination but informs and amuses at the same time. Each turn of the page is a surprising delight.
— Adrian Joffe, president of Comme des Garçons
[A] delightful book that flows like a good conversation.…Porter shows how artists—especially queer artists—subvert class, racial, and gender roles in their matter-of-fact approach to life.
— Ken Layne - The Millions
Inquisitive and insightful, Porter’s skillful dissection of the historical context, social commentary, and personal symbolism behind each artist is a pleasure to get lost in, and he makes a spirited case for the power and potential that can be unlocked through the simple act of dressing.
— Publishers Weekly