The truth is, it doesn’t really matter where it came from. The phrase is the kind of non-sequitur that I thought might stir people in a positive way. It’s just odd enough, just off-topic enough that I hoped people would react to it and create their own relation to it. Sometimes you know things but don’t really understand things and I knew but didn’t truly understand how radical and revolutionary jazz was, how deeply imbedded and truly diverse jazz was from its very inception. We take so much for granted but it was very easy to see and to imagine how wonderful that moment must have been when the world first heard this music. It must have been absolutely liberating. It’s impossible to hear early swing jazz and not start to move. And on more then one occasion, a different musician or historian would state that “Jazz is freedom.” And that jazz is the basis of American artistic culture. Wynton Marsalis went on to state unequivocally that jazz is what democracy can be, will be. As an aside, there was a tangential, throw away line by the great critic, Stanley Crouch, when discussing the ultimate inclusiveness of jazz, something to the effect of “After all, if there is one word that defines civilization, it is the word ‘welcome’” — that makes what you do a practice of true civilization.
From our friend JB. You can get one of these only at Ace Portland — the shirt, not the handsome man, pictured here.
Matt Black is a director, image-maker and old friend born in Paris, now based in NYC, who has been crafting images on the streets, for high fashion, in film and for some of our favorite publications in the world for decades. He’s presenting Something Black, his first solo show, in the gallery space at Ace Hotel New York through January 5. The exhibition is a visually arresting collection of his work exploring American iconography, and features nine new original pieces including a collaboration with tattoo artist Mike Rubendall. A limited selection of prints are available at Ace Hotel New York and on our online shop.
Matt grew up in Paris and became inspired at a young age by American culture, moving to New York City in 1998. His style fuses the cinematics of high fashion with the urgency of street art. He’s directed short films with the like of Paz de la Huerta and Rinko Kikuchi, and has created work for Dior, Louis Vuitton, Jil Sander, Porter and Joseph. He also shot our Beams Japan x Wings + Horns boxing collection at Gleason’s Gym in Manhattan. As the worlds of art and street culture become more intertwined, we love that Matt retains his eye for the authentic and the visionary. He shared with us a little bit about what makes him tick.
I AM WORKING MAINLY WITH A BLACK AND WHITE PALETTE. IN FLATTENING THE COLOR, I CAN FOCUS ON TEXTURE THROUGH DIFFERENT MEDIUMS, BUILDING ON CONTRAST AND TONE TO CREATE A BALANCED AND LAYERED IMAGE.
AS WE ARE NOW SO IMMERSED IN A DIGITAL AGE, I HAVE BEEN PLAYING WITH THE IDEA OF MIXING THESE DIGITALLY REORGANIZED IMAGES WITH UNTAMPERED PHOTOGRAPHS, CUTTING AND PASTING THE TWO TOGETHER IN AN ATTEMPT TO KEEP A HUMAN TOUCH AND SENSE OF ACCIDENT IN MY WORK.
I HAVE IN MY STUDIO A COLLECTION OF VARIOUS OBJECTS, BOOKS AND IMAGES, SOME OF WHICH HAVE BEEN HERE FOR A WHILE SOME OF WHICH REFLECT MY CURRENT MOOD AND INSPIRATIONS…
I LIKE THE IDEA OF CURATING MY SURROUNDING ON IMPULSE WITHIN THE GUIDELINES OF MY AESTHETIC.
I’M INSPIRED BY ARAKI NOBUYOSHI, HELMUT NEWTON, ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE, LARRY CLARK…
I HAVE TWO WAYS THAT I LIKE TO MAKE IMAGES. ONE IS SPONTANEOUS, WHERE I SIMPLY CAPTURE A MOMENT. THE OTHER IS DELIBERATE, WHERE I STAGE THE SUBJECT OR SCENE IN A FRAME I CREATE. I HAVE BEEN PLAYING WITH THE IDEA OF MIXING THE TWO TO GIVE A SENSE OF REALITY WHILE EXPLORING ICONS THAT CONTINUALLY APPEALE TO ME ON A PERSONAL LEVEL. THE LANDSCAPES AND BACKGROUNDS WORK EITHER AS STAGES OR BRIDGES TO THE REAL WORLD.
Prints top to bottom are Werewolf (with Mike Rubendall), South of No North and Totem.