Paint It Black: Robert Knoke's Portraits of the Hipster Avant-Garde

November 8, 2010
German artist Robert Knoke may be known to the contemporary art world as a traditional portraitist, but unlike his forbears he's not interested in prettifying stuffed shirts. Instead, Knoke trains his ballpoint pen and markers on an unruly universe of hipsters, avant-garde artists, and visionaries, including Patti Smith and Marc Jacobs, rendering them in stark, expressive images. Here, Knoke walks us through eight of his most representative portraits, all of which can be found in his book 00 Volume 01: Black Material, hitting bookshelves this month.

Walter Van Beirendonck, Fashion Designer
"He's this really big guy with a beard. I'm interested in the architecture of the faces and bodies of people like that. I immediately thought I would do a really huge drawing of him—he is life-sized in the drawing, which is one of the biggest I've ever done. It's about seven feet high. The lines and strokes you see in the background work like an extension of the actual figure. It's about the energy of that person."

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