“Grace Jones: Camera, Disco, Studio” will be the new exhibition that will take place this fall at the Nottingham Contemporary by the Jamaican artist and that will explore her image and perfomance aesthetics, as well as stage design, music and fashion. A cross between a biography and studio work, the exhibition, commissioned by Cédric Fauq and Olivia Aherne, will present Jones as a pioneering figure who broke binary systems, in fields such as gender, sexuality, and race.
Extravagant, androgynous and instinctive are some of the words that define the muse, model, singer, actress and ultimately artist who appeared on the scene during the 70s and became an icon of the time. Grace Jones is probably one of the most iconic models in history.
Born in Spanish Town in 1948, her parents moved to New York in search of a better life and Grace, along with her brother, Noel, were raised by their grandparents in Jamaica until, in 1965, they went to live in the Great Apple. Once there, Jones abandoned her studies and began her career as a dancer. At 18 he was signed as a model and signed with the prestigious agency Willehmina Modeling. However, despite having one of the most beautiful and stylized bodies in the world, at that time his physique did not meet the standards of American beauty, so he decided to move to Paris, where his slender, androgynous, broad-shouldered and very short, almost shaved hair was a success.
In Paris, Jones became muse to designer Azzedine Alaia and rubbed with part of the fashion elite such as Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld or Kenzo, with her roommates and models Jerry Hall, Jessica Lange or Pat Cleveland, frequenting more modern venues such as Le Club Sept and was portrayed by photographers such as Helmut Newton , Guy Bourdin, Hans Feurer or Jean Paul Goude, who would become her husband and father of her only child.
Back in the US, her stature and androgyny made her a symbol of the most underground New York. A regular at Studio 54, it was not uncommon to see her with pop artist Andy Warhol, one of her best friends, Keith Haring, Antonio López or Richard Berstein among other celebrities.
She debuted as an actress in the movie Gordon´s War and made several films, but the most notorious was the one she co-starred with Arnold Schawarzeneger, Conan the Destroyer, where she played the implacable warrior Zula. A year later she also starred in A view to a kill, along with Swedish actor Dolph Lungren, being the most atypical Bond girl in the entire series starring Sean Connery in the role of James Bond. Later, until the same year 2001, she continued acting in various films.
Grace Jones was also a great promoter of disco music which led her to start her musical career and catapulted her into her own successor to the incredible Donna Summer. In 1977 she released her debut album, Portfolio, the first of three albums he recorded with legendary record producer Tom Moulton. With memorable themes such as I Need a Man, which reached number one in Billboard magazine and became a gay anthem of the time, or La vie en rose, a particular version of Edtih Piaf’s flagship song; and in 1981 she recorded and released Nightclubbing, her greatest work in music. Her fifth album to which one of the songs that made her absolutely famous belongs: I´ve seen that face before (Libertango) and, in addition, contains stylized and expansive versions of Vanda / Young, Bill Whiters, Ástor Piazzolla, David Bowie e Iggy Pop or Sting and whose mythical cover photographed by Jean-Paul Goude is an artistic reference.
Later she made forays into soul and reggae, with a triumphant theme such as Nipple to the Bottle. Her last great musical success was in 1985, with Slave to the Rhythm, a theme with which she returned, after a few years, to reach number 1 on the Billboard. Then Jones continued to perform, both in the USA and in England, in concerts like the mythical Isle of Wight until 2008, the year of her last recording as a singer, Hurricane.
But Grace Jones doesn’t give up and at 72 she is still one of the great icons of fashion and pop music. A true living legend.
All that power will be reflected in the upcoming exhibition, “Grace Jones: Camera, Disco, Studio” that reviews the singer’s Afrofuturistic image highlighting her extravagant personality, her sensual voice and her subversive presence on stage, through the works of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lynn Goldsmiths, Rolandthe Bars, ACT UP, Robert Mapplethorpe or the legendary designer Azzedine Alaïa, among others. A tour of the singer’s career that revives her essence as one of the most transgressive divas in history.
Grace Jones: Camera, Disco, Studio: From September 26, 2020 to January 3, 2021,