Friday, February 19, 2010

Hip Hop Portraits

New Yorker artist Alex Melamid - at one time the Soviet Union's most famous dissident artist - unveiled twelve life-size paintings of hip hop icons and stragglers in his first solo show, Holy Hip-Hop, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit in 2008. The exhibt has also shown in LA and New York at the Forum Gallery. The dozen include: Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Common, Kanye West, Reverend Run, Duke, Lil Jon, Don “Magic” Juan, Whoo Kid, Marc Ecko and Russell Simmons. The twelve are dressed in their ordinary clothes but rendered in an “Old Master style,” providing the series with compelling imagery. Only 50 Cent actually sat while the artist painted. The rest of the portraits were done from photographs. Melamid says he got into the project because of his son, "Dan the Man" Melamid, who produces hip-hop music videos. "Realism is the only thing I can do," he says. "I can't do anything else. Like the rappers. They can't play violins."

Melamid used to work with another former Soviet artist, Vitaly Komar, and the Library has two books by the team.

Painting by numbers: Komar and Melamid's Scientific Guide to Art
Komar/Melamid: Two Soviet Dissident Artists

If you would rather listen to hip hop, APL has four of the top hip hop albums from 2009.

Eminem's Relaps3

J Dilla's Jay Stay Paid

K’Naan's Troubadour

Method Man's Blackout! 2

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