Dec 4

2024 Pirelli Calendar Unveiled

The cover of the 2024 Pirelli Calendar makes for an intriguing start to visual artist Prince Gyasi’s unique take on this iconic publication. Set against a bright turquoise background and filled with colourful details, it features seven-year-old model Abul Faid Yussif representing the young Gyasi.

Yussif is pictured playing with miniature versions of some of the items that appear within the Calendar’s pages: a key held by Hollywood legend Angela Bassett; pieces of a clock from supermodel Naomi Campbell’s set; pink ladders climbed by the poet Amanda Gorman; a blue suitcase carried by actor and DJ Idris Elba.

The image is a guide to help us understand some of the finer points of Gyasi’s highly personal and moving approach, because this is the way his richly layered Calendar unfolds – full of meticulous details and messages, worthy of the Renaissance paintings he admires.

Inspiring “other kids like me”

Within its pages, Gyasi refers to his heritage, his community, his inspirations – from the mythology he used to enjoy reading with his mother to the king of West Africa’s historical Asante Empire, His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II (who is also photographed). And as he describes in an introductory script – printed in a font specially created to reproduce his handwriting ­– those featured in the Calendar include both people he admired as a child as well as new inspirations. They are people, he says, who are “timeless”.

“I realised that it isn’t about being young or old, fresh or wise. What makes these icons who they are lies elsewhere. It is in their focus, their dedication, their passion. They never stop. They never quit,” he writes.

“I want to tell a story that explores the power of how our achievements are experienced in the eyes of those we inspire. In the end, this project is not about my journey or yours; it’s about theirs, my community, the youth. This is about providing a chance for other kids like me to see these images and to be inspired to become their own best selves.”

Memorable compositions

It’s a worthy legacy for the 2024 Calendar, with Gyasi at 28 one of the youngest image makers to take on the commission. It was shot in London and Gyasi’s home city of Accra, Ghana – the place where he grew up and which provided the material for many of his early photographic artworks, some famously captured on a smartphone.

Also featured in this year’s edition are global superstar and actress Tiwa Savage; writer, director,  and producer Jeymes Samuel; author Margot Lee Shetterlyartist and actress Teyana Taylor; contemporary Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo; and entrepreneur and former footballer Marcel Desailly.

Each set was designed by Gyasi to represent what makes each individual timeless for him. Using a static camera on a tripod, he captures a scene, a composition, that has the feel of an artwork as much as a photo, aided by a creative team that included stylist Ola-Oluwa Ebiti, hair stylist Issac Poleon and make-up artists Mata Marielle and Elizabeth Boateng.

When she was interviewed after her shoot, Shetterly said she appreciated the experience of being “part of an artist’s vision”. “What I really like about Prince as the photographer for this Calendar is that he merges two things,” she said. “He’s got this very specific vision of blackness, of African-ness, of African American-ness, that he is trying to communicate, and yet his art and his images are very transcendent. They are universal, they’re accessible, they’re visceral, they’re aesthetically very appealing. You look at them, and you feel yourself drawn into these colours and these images and these people.”

Creating something special

The colours continue with the presentation box for this 50th edition of the Calendar – now in its 60th year as for some years it wasn’t published. It’s glossy bright pink with a rich purple interior. A limited number of special-edition Calendars feature a cast of Gyasi’s hand in gold-painted resin and metal designed by Italian artist Riccardo Sivelli. When you pick it up, it’s as if you’re greeting Gyasi himself.

Equal consideration has been given to the Calendar’s website. It’s a mix of photos, texts, videos and, for the first time all content is delivered in 68 languages. Once past the opening sequence of an exploding clock, viewers are taken through the whole Calendar, photograph by photograph, before being given the opportunity to explore individually and find out more about the project from an interactive “guide”. It’s a purist approach designed to do justice to the images – of which there are 24, two per month – and which feature Gyasi himself. It’s not the first time that the creative talent behind the Calendar has appeared in the publication (rock star Bryan Adams photographed and appeared in his 2022 Calendar), but it is the first time they’ve had their own dedicated month.

As he joins greats including Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts and Annie Leibovitz, who have all shot the Pirelli Calendar, it’s just one more way that Gyasi is leaving his own individual stamp on the publication.

Source: Pirelli

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