To a T: Robert Longo’s Brooklyn Tide

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Published March 30, 2010

 

 

Robert Longo‘s portraits of oceania and surf culture look unflinchingly at sunny images of youth. Alongside his stark, graphic black-and-white portraits of corporate cannibals writhing in exquisite psychic pain, Longo takes on the awe of nature; in 2002, he devoted a series of epic murals exclusively to the punishing power of waves. Now, Longo’s latent fascination with the surf shifts back to the people who ride it: for Spring 2010, he has created an exclusive T-shirt for streetwear brand Brooklyn Surfer. In typical Longo style, the black t-shirt features a bold white design, featuring a surfer trio, boards aloft, in striking silhouette.

“I developed the Brooklyn Surfer logo from a memory I had of being at the beach near Rockaway in Brooklyn,” recalls Longo. “It was late in the day, the sun was bright, hanging low in the sky. As I looked west, down the shoreline into the setting sun, I saw in the distance the sharp silhouettes of surfers holding their boards checking out the surf. This image was burned into my brain.”  Longo fans will appreciate the irony of the portrait, which seems to be gleaned from a Hawaiian coastline, a California beach, or—hell—anywhere but Rockaway beach. But for Longo, surf culture as depicted in a hitherto concrete jungle is part of the design’s charm. “Brooklyn may sound like an unlikely location for a surf spot, but in reality it is a real location with a decent break and at times some serious swells. Not far from the beaches are the basketball black tops of city legends and the subway stations.”

LONGO’S DESIGN FOR BROOKLYN SURFER WILL BE AVAILABLE IN SELECT BOUTIQUES AND ONLINE BEGINNING IN MAY.