Kadir Nelson

The cover of the most recent New Yorker, “A Day at the Beach” by Kadir Nelson:


Françoise Mouly’s “cover story” from the 4th (in its entirety):

“I grew up close to the shore, and I have always loved spending time at the beach,” the Los Angeles-based artist Kadir Nelson says of his cover for this week’s issue. “When I was young it meant time with my dad, and now that I’m a father myself I relish the long summer days spent with my own children.”

Mouly and Nelson together are deliberately framing the painting as just another depiction of Americans enjoying summer pleasures, of the sort the magazine has done many dozens of over the years. And so it is. But of course it shows a black (or, as Nelson himself would prefer, Black) man and his children enjoying the beach — and in this season of Black Lives Matter, it’s a powerful assertion of the humanity of Black people. In this context, Nelson’s cover is a political statement, entirely in line with the bulk of his work, which affirms the dignity of Black people and celebrates their heroisms.

(Nelson’s efforts oppose the sadly common view that black people are stupid, dirty, lazy, and dangerously violent animals.)

Very brief Wikipedia bit on Nelson (in an article with lengthy references to his work):

Kadir Nelson (born May 15, 1974) is an African-American artist, illustrator and author. His work is focused on African-American culture and history.

Nelson was born in Washington, DC, the son of author and motivational speaker Emily-Diane Gunter. He received his early training in art from his uncle, Michael Morris,who was an artist and art instructor. Nelson graduated from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.

More informative discussion in this piece on the Culture Type site by Victoria L. Valentine on 2/16/15, in connection with this New Yorker cover:


The New Yorkew is celebrating its 90th anniversary with nine covers by nine illustrators including award-winning artist Kadir Nelson.
The magazine’s first issue in February 1925 featured a “starchy-looking gent with the beaver hat and the monocle,” an iconic character who later became known as Eustace Tilley. Standing the test of time, Tilley has been parodied and reinterpreted over the years and appeared on every February edition until 1994. To mark its 90th, the magazine has turned to the character once again for inspiration.
… Along with Nelson, Istvan Banyai, Barry Blitt, Roz Chast, Carter Goodrich, Anita Kunz, Lorenzo Mattotti, Peter Mendelsund and Christoph Niemannm, contributed covers for the special double issue (Feb. 23 and March 2, 2015).
… Known for illustrating children’s books and U.S. Postage Stamps (most recently Wilt Chamberlain and Ralph Ellison), Nelson has also collaborated with corporations and worked on music and film industry projects. In 2013, Nelson wrote and illustrated a children’s book about Nelson Mandela and when the South African leader died later in the year, he illustrated “Madiba,” the Dec. 16, 2013, New Yorker cover commemorating his life.
Executed in oil paint, Nelson’s cover for the magazine’s 90th anniversary depicts Tilley as a distinguished, contemporary Black man dressed in a casual ensemble including a wool winter coat and sweater, complete with smart phone and ear buds.

As far as I can tell, Nelson has done six New Yorker covers so far: 12/16/13 (“Madiba”), 2/23 & 3/2/15 (#2 above), 8/24/15, 2/22/16, and 7/11&18/16 (#1 above).

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