Sunday, February 14, 2010

GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE... congrats: face of Calvin Klein - - artist/ model DAVID AGBODJI @ Re:QUEST MODEL MGMT.

David Rgbodji @ Re:quest model mgmt. photographed by Steven Klein
It is great to see another fashion door swing open and model/ artist David Agbodji @ Request Model Mgmt has kicked it off its hinges. Being the current face of Calvin Klein, David has definitely hit a milestone in his modeling career. Last fashion week he was the first black male model to open the Calvin Klein Spring 2010 show. This season David closed out the Fall 2010 show. ... a big break for any male model.

It is interesting to see the black male image being associated with the standards of American beauty.

The Calvin Klein images took me back to when I was a photography student at the University of Memphis. They reminded me of my own photographic works. Every semester I created images that I felt celebrated black beauty. This sparked many heated debates in my art classes. I was the only Black person in my photography classes and I fought for my classmates to acknowledge and recognize the beauty we as black people brought to this world. I wanted them to respect and appreciate our beauty instead of objectify us.

Just as Trace magazine's Black Girl's Rule issue gave power to Black female beauty, I hope my work gives power and validation to the Black male image and forced viewers to see us in an artistic way. I always hoped for change and wanted my work to contribute to the big picture. I was not surprised that validation of Black beauty would have to come from someone like  the  people at Calvin Klein and photographer Steven Klein. Truthfully, its no different than Steven Miesel's collaboration with Italian Vogue's "Black" issue celebrating black female models. We as black people have for so long spent most of our time trying to fit into a social standard of beauty that never included us. Instead of taking our own image and creating our own standard of beauty...we sit back and wait for society to hand us their version of beauty.

 images from my art projects during my college days at University of Memphis

Brandon Parker shot by Tarrice Love in 2006

When I first came to New York, my style and approach on male beauty weren't received with open arms. Agents, stylist, and others told me that my style was too artistic and no one was interested in seeing black male models photographed that way. I was told to focus on shooting the black guys in a more upscale "catalogy" way.  In the past, the Black male image was urban - street hoodlum.  The election of Obama has made a black man the spokeperson of this country which has reinforced the black male image as commercial, safe, and boring. (if you don't believe me, go look at the top agencies (with the exception of Red NYC) and check out the black guys books).

Pierre Woods@ New York Models 

GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE..... keep watching. I am excited to see where all of this is going.


  1. whoever told you that obviously didn't know what they were talking about. a real artist follows his own direction in spite of what the critics think. you were way ahead of your time. and your work is amazing.

  2. Thanks man for not listening to those "agents, stylists and others" who told you that. They probably didn't appreciate seeing that style from a black male artist and could only appreciate it if it came from someone white. I have always been interested in the black male(and female) image seen in a high-fashion/edgy/artsy way as opposed to the regular "commercial" way we're usually photographed. I love your style. Keep up the great work.