If you're already familiar with Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and even KAWS, chances are, Kenny Scharf would also be a name that rings quite a few bells. The American painter may not be as widely referenced as his more mainstream peers, but that's perhaps soon to change after the Dior Men fall 2021 runway presentation.
Scharf's indisputably vibrant prints of blob-like characters were the main highlight of the collection. They were not only translated into the collection's ready-to-wear pieces, but also apparent in Dior signatures and accessories such as the Saddle bag and embroidered belts. In many instances, Scharf's prints were layered on top of one another for a truly psychedelic effect.
The Dior Men fall 2021 collection is a brilliant introduction to the artist's visual aesthetic. But here are some of the things to note about Kenny Scharf.
He's friends with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring
"My first week in New York, I met Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat," Scharf tells model and musician Fai Khadra. "We went around tagging and stuff."
Scharf was born in Los Angeles, California and moved to New York in the '70s where he was exposed to graffiti art and forged friendships with the two art icons. And his main reason for moving? It was for Andy Warhol, who he also became friends with.
This is not his first collaboration
The Dior Men fall 2021 collection is by no means his first collaboration outside of the art world. Scharf collaborated on a series of limited edition capsule collection with French brand LES(ART)ISTS back in 2017. He was also one of several artists selected to stamp their works on scarves for Louis Vuitton's Foulards D’Artistes series for the 2014 spring/summer season. And prior to the Dior Men fall 2021 collection, Heron Preston released a selection of ready-to-wear pieces bearing Scharf's graphics.
He's all about the extremes
If it's not already evident from his works of art, Scharf likes the tension that opposites convey. The contrast of clashing colours such as red versus green, orange against blue, as well as yellow and purple, make for the kind of "tension and the excitement that [he] love[s]." Which is also why characters of conflicting emotions could be seen interacting and sharing the same space within the Dior Men fall 2021 collection.
Scharf is not a graffiti artist
At least, he doesn't consider himself one. Although he does make use of spray paints and joined his fellow taggers around New York City, he doesn't have a 'tag'. In a 2011 interview with Arrested Motion, Scharf expresses, "I consider myself to be an artist who works in the street, and who works with spray paint, using the vocabulary of graffiti, but I don’t consider myself a graffiti artist."
Caring for the environment is something he shares with Kim Jones
"I'm really obsessed with this and I think it's the most urgent thing. And we should all be freaking out," Scharf tells Khadra when asked about his passion for environmental causes—something that artistic director Kim Jones is also passionate about.
Scharf's concern for the environment has extended into his work as well. They have included making installations out of found materials, and even paintings done on repurposed flat-screen television screens.