At his peak in the 1970s, Puerto Rican fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez was practically a god in the fashion world. His magnetic personality, zest for life, and desire to surround himself with beauty attracted the period’s boldest names, including Andy Warhol, Karl Lagerfeld, and Jerry Hall. The excess of the time eventually consumed him, and Lopez succumbed to AIDS as the disease was hitting epidemic proportions in 1987. Lopez’s name soon faded away into obscurity.
Twenty-five years after his death, an exhibition and book are putting Lopez back in the spotlight. “Antonio’s World,” a retrospective of never-before-exhibited drawings, photographs, videos, and ephemera, runs through October 20 at Suzanne Geiss Company in Soho. In conjunction with the show, Rizzoli released “Antonio: Fashion, Art, Sex, & Disco,” a colorful tome filled with Lopez’s art and photographs.
Lopez’s friends still remember the illustrator fondly. At the opening for “Antonio’s World” last week, several of the late artist’s muses and friends were on hand. “I’m so emotional about it because it’s so breathtaking to see this work in this beautiful space and it’s an homage to a fantastic artist,” Donna Jordan, a former Andy Warhol superstar and model who graced French and Italian Vogue, told ARTINFO.
“I can’t believe I was ever that young,” said Lopez muse Susan Baraz, as she soaked in the old drawings and photographs of herself.
What did she miss most? “His ability to bring out something in someone that they didn’t even know they had originally,” she said. “That just manifested when you were in his presence.”
Fashion and party photographer Roxanne Lowit, who attended FIT with Lopez in the ’60s, remembered how he loved to dance. “We would dance in the snack bar and mambo on two, and he was always dancing, and when he wasn’t dancing, he was drawing,” she said.
Lowit credited her career to Lopez. “I wouldn’t have been me without him,” she said. “He introduced me to Anna Piaggi, Anna Piaggi printed my first full page in Vanity Fair. Franca Sozzani liked it, I did 47 pages for Italian Vogue backstage, and it was the first time anybody did any backstage like that, and all this was because of Antonio.”
The sentiment that echoed throughout the night? “He’s missed,” both Baraz and Lowit told ARTINFO. Jordan said, “I wish he was here right now.” Lopez may no longer be around, but through his illustrations, the lives he helped shape, and the memories he left behind, his legacy remains.
Click on the slide show to see images from “Antonio: Fashion, Art, Sex, & Disco” and “Antonio’s World.”
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