One of my talented professors and friend,
He will be missed. He taught at risd for about 40 years. 

RICHARD MERKIN     b. 1938-2009  Artist, Teacher,  Fashionista, Author


He introduced me to artists like Ben Shahn and Richard Diebenkorn. I didn't really understand his work when I was 19 but, I do now. He used to always wear a bright orange prison jumpsuit to class. He lived in NYC and used to take the train to his Providence apt. / 4 days a week to teach.
 He was #awesome - 

       Merkin wrote the monthly column “Merkin on Style’’ for GQ Magazine .


Richard Merkin’s work conjures up scenes that evoke the raucous spirit of the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. In his witty, often eccentric illustrations, Merkin depicts movie stars, jazz musicians, sports heroes and literary impresarios co-mingling with more personal references. In his highly stylized approach to the figure, Merkin privileges color relationships, balance and juxtaposition over strictly literal descriptions of his subjects. And humor; there’s always humor. Merging his role as flaneur (connoisseur of city life) with his role as painter and social historian, Merkin retrieves lost cultural artifacts-a Turkish cigarette, a gangster, a bowler and generally 'things most people don't know about'-and reconstitutes their Jazz Age virtues on canvas in cubist, comic-laced landscapes of tropical color.

Tom Wolfe, author of Bonfire of the Vanities, wrote, "The typical Merkin picture takes legendary American images-from baseball, the movies, fashion, Society, tabloid crime and scandal-and mixes them with his own autobiography, often with dream-style juxtapositions."

Merkin was born in BrooklynNew York in 1938, and holds degrees from Syracuse University and the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1962-63 he received a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Fellowship in Painting and, in 1975, The Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from The National Institute of Arts and Letters.

His distinctive work hangs in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution.


Some of Merkin's fashions on view at the RISD museum/ ARTIST REBEL DANDY 

His face is on the cover of The Beatles 1969 album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,’’ right next to Fred Astaire.  
The cover was designed by British Pop Artist Peter Blake, who was good friend's with Merkin. 

PETER BLAKE'S set designed photoshoot just before The Beatles stepped in.

Merkin began teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 1963 and remained there for nearly 40 years. During this time, he built his reputation in New York. He is represented in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian Institution and the WhitneyMuseum as well as many others. . Mr. Merkin has been a Contributing Editor for Vanity Fair since 1986 and a regular contributor of illustrations to The New Yorker since 1988, as well as Harper’s and The New York Time’s Sunday Magazine. From 1988-1991 he wrote a monthly style column for Gentlemen’s Quarterly. In 1995, he illustrated the book, Leagues Apart: The Men and Times of the Negro Baseball Leagues, (by Larry Ritter). He wrote the text and captions for The Tijuana Bibles, (Simon & Schuster, 1997
 He also has the dubious distinction of appearing on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, (back row, right of center).He is represented in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian Institution and the Whitney Museum, among others. Merkin had been a contributing editor for Vanity Fair since 1986 and a regular contributor of illustrations to The New Yorker since 1988, as well as Harper's and The New York Times' Sunday Magazine. From 1988–1991, he wrote a monthly style column called "Merkin on Style" for Gentlemen's Quarterly. In 1986, Merkin told The Daily News Record, a fashion publication: "Dressing, like painting, should have a residual stability, plus punctuation and surprise...Somewhere, like in Krazy Kat, you've got to throw the brick."

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CHEERS  R.M. ****   


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