ANTONIO LOPEZ & JUAN RAMOS
Antonio Lopez was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico on February 11th, 1943. When Antonio was seven years old, the family migrated to New York, where he attended P.S. 77 on East 104th Street. Through his talents he gained the friendship and admiration of other children as well as teachers. To keep her son off the streets, Lopez’s mother, a seamstress, would ask him to draw flowers for her embroideries. He helped his father, a mannequin maker, to apply make-up and stitch the wigs on the figures.
In adolescence, Lopez thought he would become a dancer, and in fact met with some success dancing in children’s TV programs, but he eventually turned to what he called “his first love”---drawing. At the age of twelve he was awarded a scholarship to the Traphagen School of Fashion, which provided Saturday programs for children, particularly inner-city youth. The classes were offered by local colleges and training schools to expose young people to experience in the arts. In junior high school Lopez was encouraged by his art teacher to attend the High School of Art and Design (formerly High School of Industrial Arts), part of the New York City school system. Upon graduation Lopez was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where three teachers---Beatrice Dwan, Frances Neady, and Ana Ishikawa---supported him in his efforts to embark on a career in fashion illustration.
part of a work-study program at FIT, Lopez worked for Fairchild Publications,
publisher of numerous newspapers including the fashion trade paper Women’s
Wear Daily. Staff in the paper’s millinery department noticed Lopez’s
impressive drawings of women’s heads and invited him to view and draw
the new season’s Lilly Dache collection. One of those drawings soon
appeared on the front page of the paper. When offered the opportunity
to take the job there, Lopez left school and joined the staff. About
six months later was offered a positions at the New York Times where,
after first covering the theater, he soon began a long and productive
collaboration with fashion editors Patricia Peterson and Carrie Donovan.
Under their experienced eyes he was able to explore the influence that
various art styles---beginning with Pop Art, Op Art, Surrealism, and
others—had on fashion design. He signed his work simply “Antonio,” even
after beginning a creative and business partnership with Juan Ramos,
a friend from FIT.
the early 1960s, Lopez began to free-lance for fashion magazines such
as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and Andy Warhol’s Interview, where
his portraits of models Jerry Hall, Jessica Lange, and Grace Jones enhanced
their careers. In 1964, Lopez introduced himself to couturier Charles
James in a New York restaurant. That meeting resulted in a collaboration
between the young artist and older master that would last more than
ten years and produce an illustrated record of all the clothes James
had ever designed. James taught Lopez to appreciate the sculptural quality
of clothes, a perspective that had a lasting effect on his drawings.
In 1969, Lopez and Ramos moved to Paris, where they remained for seven years. They were central there with designer Karl Lagerfeld in a group of models and fashion personalities and helped introduce American Pop Art to Paris. By the early 1970s, ANTONIO’S wor His constantly changing, flamboyant style came to dominate fashion illustration by injecting energy into a discipline that had been stagnant since the 1950s. Lopez’s career took him to Paris, Tokyo, Kyoto, Milan, Sidney, Melbourne, and other international locations.Working for and with manufacturers, publications, and retailers with models he had discovered and whose careers he had fostered, Lopez pursued various art forms and endeavors. He worked in a variety of materials, including pencil, pen and ink, charcoal, watercolor, and Polaroid film, and also pursued jewelry design, conceptual designs (such as window displays for Fiorucci and Studio 54), graphic collaboration on Interview. k was in demand around the world.
Metamorphosing the imagery of his Puerto Rican childhood, Lopez transformed girls from multiethnic backgrounds into representations of universal standards of late twentieth-century beauty.
Lopez died of complications related to AIDS on March 17, 1987. He was forty-four years old.
Juan Eugene Ramos was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, on January 4, 1942. He migrated to the United States at the age of six with his mother, Mercedes Negron, and two siblings: Sonia Ramos, his sister, and Julio Cesar, his younger brother who would die in infancy.
Ramos attended New York City public schools. After graduating from Seward Park High School, he attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where he majored in Interior Design. There he met Antonio Lopez, with whom he forged a friendship that grew into a creative and business partnership that lasted for almost a quarter-century. FIT later conferred honorary degrees on Lopez and Ramos in recognition of their respective achievements in their shared career.
Ramos was a multifaceted art director who generously possessed creative vision and astute business sense. In particular his sensitivity to different art movements and styles shaped his creativity and informed his influence on Lopez. While it was Lopez who exhibited an outstanding aptitude for drawing, Ramos was the partnership’s “behind the scenes” inspiration, research, and organization. Ramos was instrumental in arranging for Lopez to give lectures and workshops over what would be the last ten years of his life.
Juan was instrumental in promoting an active dialogue with academia in the closing years of their career. This culminated in the establishment of the Antonio Lopez Scholarship offered by the Hispanic Designers Association when he collaborated with Penny Harrison after Antonio's death.
Ramos died of complications from AIDS on November 2, 1995, at age fifty-three.
Antonio's and Juan's premature deaths from AIDS are among the thousands of tragic deaths from this disease in our time. AIDS is caused by the HIV (Human Immunode- ficiency Virus) and is the final and most serious stage of HIV disease. AIDS is characterized by signs and symptoms of severe immune deficiency. It is preceded by HIV infection, which may produce no symptoms for up to ten years before a person is diagnosed with AIDS.
Today AIDS is a major health concern, with more than 315,000 people in the United States diagnosed with the infection in the last decade. More than half of those people have died, most within four years of exhibiting symptoms of the disease. Estimates from the World Health Organization show more than five hundred thousand cases of AIDS worldwide (considered a low estimate because of nonreporting and lack of adequate definition). In some countries, heterosexual transmission of the disease is much higher than in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 2.2 million Americans now carry the HIV virus (but are not yet symptomatic). In disproportionate terms, AIDS has caused a dearth of creative talent that would otherwise constitute a part of our generation's history. The work created by Antonio and Juan in approximately a quarter-century might well be but a prelude to their art’s unfulfilled promise.