From his provocative Cover Girl series featuring photographic portraits of himself on the covers of popular magazines, to his writings on sexuality and identity, the work of Nigerian-born Iké Udé explores a world of dualities: African/postnationalist, photographer/performance artist, artist/spectator, male/female, mainstream/marginal, seduction/narcissism, and fashion/art. As an artist from Nigeria working in New York City, connected to the world of fashion and celebrity, Udé gives the political aspects of performance and representation a new vitality, melding his own theatrical selves and multiple personae with his art. Like Andy Warhol, Udé plays with the ambiguities of the marketplace and art world, particularly in his notorious art, culture, and fashion magazine, aRUDE. This book, which accompanies a traveling exhibition organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art, in Portland, Maine, is the first comprehensive publication on Udé’s photography.
The book contains photographs of the installations “Beyond Decorum”, “Uses of Evidence”, and “Project Rear”; several series, including Cover Girls, Uli, and Celluloid; and photographs from his magazine aRUDE. The book also includes essays by Lauri Firstenberg, Kobena Mercer, Olu Oguibe, Valerie Steele, Octavio Zaya, and Iké Udé himself, as well as an interview with Udé conducted by Okwui Enwezor. The reader meets Udé the artist, editor, dandy, and aesthete. In his writing, Udé speaks of the futility of stereotypes, and in his photography, he brings to life the image of the artist in a plenitude of guises.
His work is in the permanent collections of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Smithsonian Museum of Art, and in many private collections; exhibited in solo and group exhibitions; reviewed in Art in America, Flash Art, and the New York Times. His articles on Fashion and art have been published in magazines and newspapers worldwide.
Udé is the author of Style File: the Worlds Most Elegantly Dressed, recently published by Harper Collins in 2008. Style File is a remarkable volume that profiles more than 55 of the most influential arbiters of style in the world today. With a foreword by Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at F.I.T., and an introduction by Harold Koda, curator-in-charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this beautifully designed book provides an intimate perspective on these unique and influential men and women, offering frank insight to their views on fashion and life through evocative interviews and lush photography. Included among the many notable designers, artists, and public figures are John Galliano, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Victoire de Castellane, André Leon Talley, Dita Von Teese, Ute Lemper, Francesco Clemente, Christian Louboutin, Diane von Furstenberg, Lapo Elkann, Frédéric Malle, and many others.
Style File also features numerous editorial features that deepen the book’s exploration of enduring style. Annotated photo albums examine the work of premier style-making photographers such as Scavullo, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Coreen Simpson, Seydou Keïta, and Maripol. Illustrated essays including those by journalist and professor Nicholas Boston on the popular blog The Sartorialist and by George Pitts, associate chair of photography at the Parsons School of Design, on the Motown Look explore a range of fashion eras, influences, and influencers, from the Belle Epoque to the late visionary stylist Isabella Blow. Evocative archival and portrait photography of fashion legends from Marchesa Casati to Diana Vreeland, select aRude fashion editorials that point to recurring themes in the intertwined cultural-political-style landscape, and style-related aphorisms are featured throughout. This comprehensive, gorgeous book is a rich exploration of personal style that belongs in every well-dressed library.
Vanity Fair included him in the magazine’s International Best Dress List, in 2009. He lives and works in New York City.