ari marcopoulos’s new book features spike lee, brooklyn skaters, and his sons
New York City’s cherished chronicler readies his newest monograph, ‘Not Yet’ — a definitive exploration of his 40-year career.
"I'm more into what I did last week than what I did last year," photographer Ari Marcopoulos told i-D this summer, when he shared a collection of recent portraits featuring Myrtle Avenue muralists and TriBeCa teen skaters. Since emigrating from his native Holland to New York in the 80s, Ari has voraciously documented all he encounters on the Rotten Apple's streets, straight up. And though he isn't all that interested in looking back, the artist's forthcoming monograph, Not Yet, does just that. It's an expansive body of images both old and new — from his behind-the-scenes snaps of Spike Lee on the set of Do the Right Thing in 1988, to his cover shot of Jay Z's 2013 album Magna Carta...Holy Grail.
Some of Not Yet's images are windows into a New York of another era. The book features a portrait of Andy Warhol, who Marcopoulos began his career assisting, as well as photographs of the young skaters he found under the Brooklyn Bridge in the early 90s. While the book spans nearly four decades, it can be difficult to distinguish which images were taken when (save a few visual tip-offs, like a snowboarder playing an original GameBoy). Unfinished zines, hikes through the woods, pickup basketball games, graffiti tags, tree branches, stick-and-poke tattoos, undercover cop cars, apple bongs, Subway showtime dancers, good books, sidewalks packed with people moving and doing: Ari captures the stuff that makes up not just youth, but life — other New Yorkers' and his own.
Each of Not Yet's chapters has been edited and curated by a different person dear to Marcopoulos — imbuing the raw images with a new dimension of intimacy. Some are fellow artists, like Matthew Barney and Kara Walker; some are friends and family members, like Ari's sons, Cairo and Ethan. Both of them frequently appear in Ari's work, and throughout Not Yet. As boys, we find the pair in bamboo forests, with matching buzz cuts and banged-up knees; by the book's end, they're 20-and 24-year-old men. "My eldest son chose some pictures of his brother, and some pictures from a cross-country trip we did together. My other son, he didn't really pick any pictures of people; it was mainly moody landscapes," Ari told i-D. Though he documented his sons' adolescence, the work, Ari said, "was never meant to be that biographical, they're more about archetypes or things that happen in your life."
'Ari Marcopoulos: Not Yet' is published by Rizzoli New York and available in October, 2016. Ari will sign copies from 6 to 8pm at Dashwood Books on October 12. More information here.
Text Emily Manning
Photography © Ari Marcopoulos: Not Yet by Ari Marcopoulos, Rizzoli New York, 2016