Artist Keith Haring painting Grace Jones in 1986 on the set of ‘Vamp.’
Grace Jones was 36 in 1984 when she, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, and pop artist Keith Haring all converged in Mapplethorpe’s studio in New York City. The reason for the epic get-together was to shoot photos of Jones covered in body paint done by Haring in his distinctive style. The session lasted a marathon eighteen hours during which Jones was photographed by Mapplethorpe adorned by Haring’s body paint, a towering headdress and an ornate “skirt.” Orchestrated by Warhol—who had introduced Haring to Jones a few years prior—Andy had been wanting to feature Jones on the cover of Interview magazine and believed that an artistic collaboration between Haring and Jones would be awesome. And he wasn’t wrong. However, Mapplethorpe and Warhol didn’t exactly click despite Mapplethorpe’s desire to be among Warhol’s ever-growing gang of muses, friends, and hanger-ons. In fact, during the photo shoot, it has been alleged that Mapplethorpe attempted to sabotage Warhol while he was taking photos of Jones by requesting Andy not use his flash in his studio. Meow.
Haring’s handiwork on Jones’ magnificent bodyscape was not the first time he used a live human as a canvas. In 1983 Haring painted Bill T. Jones, the legendary Tony Award-winning dancer, choreographer and cofounder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. This session was photographed by Tseng Kwong Chi, a prominent figure in the downtown NYC art scene.
Getting back to Haring’s work with Grace Jones, he would get to paint the Jamaican goddess more than once, including when Grace performed live at the Paradise Garage before the much-loved gay-club closed its doors. Perhaps most memorably Haring would use Jones’ body as his canvas when she landed the role of Katrina the Queen of The Vampires in the 1986 film Vamp. The look Jones cultivated for Katrina is said to be based on the character played by actress Daryl Hannah in the 1982 film Blade Runner—at least when it comes to Jones’ startling red wig and face makeup. For Jones’ 1986 video for the song “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You),” Haring was enlisted to paint the massive 60-foot white skirt Jones wears in the video. The video also includes time-lapse footage of Haring painting the giant skirt and a brief appearance by Andy Warhol—one of his very last before he passed away three months later on February 22, 1987.
I’ve posted images of Jones “wearing” her famous body paint done by Keith Haring as well as photos of Bill T. Jones looking like her muscular male doppelgänger. You can also watch footage of Grace Jones stripping down to her Haring body paint in a clip from Vamp and the video for “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You).” Much of what follows is NSFW.
Jones in body paint and adornments by Haring, photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe in his NYC studio in 1984.
Another shot of Jones by Mapplethorpe.
A cheeky shot of Haring and Jones.
Much more after the jump…