Lorraine O'Grady

Born 1934 in Boston, Massachusetts
Lives and Works in New York, New York

Lorraine O’Grady’s diptych series pairs images of nineteenth-century French poet Charles Baudelaire and twentieth-century American musician Michael Jackson—artists she considers to be “the first and the last of the modernists.” O’Grady maintains that Baudelaire and Jackson, artists separated by nearly 150 years, occupied pivotal positions in their genres and shared surprisingly similar traits, including dramatic flair, aspirations to greatness, unrelenting perfectionism, drug addiction, and ambiguous sexuality. Choosing from tens of thousands of internet images of Jackson to pair with the few available images of Baudelaire, O’Grady represents the two men at roughly the same ages, tracing their trajectories: Baudelaire’s descent from an aristocratic family into poverty and Jackson’s rise to wealth and fame. Made in part to reconsider the life and career of Michael Jackson, The First and the Last of the Modernists raises questions about the roles of art and popular culture as well as how modern figures are presented, flattened, and distributed through the news media.

Read About the Artist

Artist's website

"Women's Work"
T Magazine/The New York Times (February 2010)

"The Poem Will Resemble You: The Art of Lorraine O'Grady"
Artforum (May 2009)

"Art in Review; Lorraine O'Grady"
The New York Times (September 2008)

"Art: Black Artists Confront History"
The New York Times (May 1999)