artist biography



With his ongoing photographic self-portraits, Sartorial Anarchy, dressed in varied costumes across geography and time the work of Nigerian-born Iké Udé explores a world of dualities: photographer/performance artist, artist/spectator, African/postnationalist, mainstream/marginal, individual/everyman and fashion/art. As a Nigerian born,  New York based artist, conversant with the world of fashion and celebrity, Udé gives conceptual aspects of performance and representation a new vitality, melding his own theatrical selves and multiple personae with his art. Udé plays with the ambiguities of the marketplace and art world, particularly in his seminal art, culture, and fashion magazine, aRUDE and recently his style blog, theCHIC INDEX.

Beyond Decorum (MIT Press, 2000), accompanied a traveling exhibition—organized by Mark Besire, then director of the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art, in Portland, Maine—was the first comprehensive publication on Udé’s photography. The book contains photographs of the installations “Beyond Decorum”, “Uses of Evidence”, and “Project Rear”; several series, including Cover Girls, Uli, and Celluloid; and photographs from his magazine aRUDE. The book also includes essays by Kobena Mercer, Aimee Bessire, Valerie Steele, and Iké Udé himself, as well as an interview with the artist. The reader meets Udé the artist, editor, dandy, and aesthete. In his writing, Udé speaks of the futility of stereotypes, and in his photography, he brings to life the image of the artist in a plenitude of guises.

Udé is the author of Style File: the World’s Most Elegantly Dressed, recently published by Harper Collins in 2008.

Style File is a remarkable volume that profiles more than 55 of the most influential arbiters of style in the world today. With a foreword by Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at F.I.T., and an introduction by Harold Koda, curator-in-charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this beautifully designed book provides an intimate perspective on these unique and influential men and women, offering frank insight to their views on fashion and life through evocative interviews and lush photography. Included among the many notable designers, artists, and public figures are John Galliano, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Victoire de Castellane, André Leon Talley, Dita Von Teese, Ute Lemper, Francesco Clemente, Christian Louboutin, Diane von Furstenberg, Lapo Elkann, Frédéric Malle, and many others.

His work is in the permanent collections of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Smithsonian Museum of Art, Sheldon Museum, RISD Museum, New Britain Museum of American Art, Minneapolis Institute of Arts and in many private collections; exhibited in solo and group exhibitions; reviewed in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Art in America, Flash Art, Art News and such. His articles on fashion and art have been published in magazines and newspapers worldwide.

He has made the coveted Vanity Fair magazine’s International Best Dress List, in 2009, 2012; Vanity Fair: A Blast of the Best 2013; Vanity Fair: The Top Ten Best Dressed Artists, 2013. He lives and works in New York City.