Rule Breakers: D’Angelo Lovell Williams

“I never want to see another picture of ________.” Industry veterans share their pet peeves on themes in contemporary photography. In this series they present their “rule” along with five photographs that break the rule in an effort to show that great work is the exception to the rule.

Rule Setter: Kris Graves, photographer and Director, Kris Graves Projects
Rule Breaker: D’Angelo Lovell Williams

I never want to see another picture of a human being with no clothing. In my opinion, the "nude photograph" has been overused and remains far too important in the art world and art business. Most nude portraits tell you little about the person being photographed and far more about the person making the photograph. I feel like you must agree with me that most nudes are "pedestrian" at best, images that you maybe made (definitely a classmate of yours made) while studying in your undergrad program.

There are millions of photographers in the world and I won't act like I've seen everyone's take on nudes in photography but what I see in photobooks, galleries, museums and on social media here in the US does not excite or bring anything new to the contemporary art conversation. When is the last time you've thought of a nude photograph as innovative?

I never want to see another picture of a human being with no clothing.

I spoke too soon.

D'Angelo Lovell Williams is an artist from Jackson, Mississippi currently working on his MFA at Syracuse University in New York. Williams incorporated self-portrait nudes flawlessly into his practice and is able to produce photographs that are anything but comfortable. His portraits bring a much-needed edge to the genre.

"My work is about desire. I visualize perspectives of, not only, what it means to be Black and queer from my perspective, but ways of photographing as a means to destigmatize Black male intimacy and sexuality through the self. Black bodies are fetishized, sexualized, and “othered” today. I’m challenging the systemic placement in society and the framing of the Black male body by using my own." writes Williams.
—Kris Graves