Ari Marcopoulos

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Ari Marcopoulos (born Aristos) is an American self-taught photographer, adventurer and film artist. Born in the Netherlands, he is best known for presenting work showcasing elusive subcultures, including artists, snowboarders and musicians.[1] He lives and works in New York.[2] Marcopoulos is represented by Fergus McCaffery in New York and Tokyo,[3] and Galerie Frank Elbaz in Paris.[4]

Early life[edit]

Marcopoulos was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in 1957. His father was from Greek origin and was born in Egypt. He was a pilot and moved to The Netherlands to work for KLM. In The Netherlands, he met a young Dutch model, Marcopoulos's mother. His parents had three sons, including Ari, and one daughter.[5]

Marcopoulos moved to New York City in 1980 when he was 23 years old.[6] There, he was first exposed to the burgeoning hip-hop and downtown art scenes of 1980s New York. His reasoning behind the move was due to cultural frustrations in his home country of Holland, Marcopoulos recalls, " Holland, things were pretty stale for me. Even though there were a lot of good influences and a certain openness to music and art and literature, I just wanted to go somewhere less familiar–somewhere bigger. Holland is a fairly small country, and in a weird way, somewhat conservative...There isn't much flexibility in changing people's perspectives."[1]

After emigrating to the United States, Marcopoulos first was hired as a printing assistant to Andy Warhol. Two year later, he became the photo assistant to photographer Irving Penn.[7] He quickly became a part of the downtown arts scene that included artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Robert Mapplethorpe.[8] Marcopoulos credits Warhol in teaching him the value of photographing every-day objects and people, and Penn in showing him the power of a simplistic approach to photography.[9]

Work and career[edit]

Family and friends have been both muses and subject-matter throughout his career as a photographer. His landscapes and portraiture offer straightforward takes on everyday life and the creativity of people in the margins.

Hip-hop culture[edit]

Once Marcopoulos moved to New York City, he began to photograph the locals he encountered in the street, which exposed him to the up-and-coming downtown artist and hip-hop scenes of the 1980s. There he met and photographed portraits of pioneering rap icons including The Fat Boys, the Beastie Boys, Rakim, Public Enemy, Ratking and LL Cool J.

His photo documentation of the Beastie Boys touring and recording between their albums, Check Your Head and III Communication can be found in his book, Pass The Mic: Beastie Boys 1991-1996.[10]

Marcopoulos's best known hip-hop collaboration was shooting the cover photo for American rapper Jay-Z’s twelfth studio album, Magna Carta Holy Grail in 2013. The cover photo features the marble statue of Alpheus and Arethusa by Florentine sculptor Battista Loenzi.[citation needed]

Skater culture[edit]

In the early 1990s, Marcopulos met and befriended skaters cycling at the legendary local spot dubbed “The Banks” found underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. He shot portraits of New York skate icons Harold Hunter and Justin Pierce, both featured in Larry Clark's 1995 coming-of-age film Kids.[11]

He has frequently collaborated with the skateboarding fashion label, Supreme. The brand has created several collections of hooded sweatshirts, t-shirts, Vans sneakers, and hats that have featured Marcopoulos's photography.

In 2017, Marcopoulos collaborated with Adidas Skateboarding to release a limited footwear and apparel collection featuring his photographs from the ‘90s.[12]

Snowboard culture[edit]

In 1995, Marcopoulos was contacted by Burton Snowboards to shoot their new snowboarding catalogue. Despite not knowing how to ski or snowboard, the photographer agreed to the project and taught himself how to snowboard.[13] The artist stated his experience, “I didn’t approach [snowboarding] as a sport, I approached it as a lifestyle,” he says. “That’s what I liked about snowboarding – a bunch of kids travelling around the world in their own community. They were just living their own life without their parents around – a community of people living and working together and seeing each other in different places.”[14]


Marcopoulos has published over 200 books and limited edition zines as well as books in collaboration with artists like Fumes with Matthew Barney, an in-depth look at Barney's studio process captured through photographs shot over the course of four years and "the Ecstasy of St. Kara" with Kara Walker.[15][16]

In 2019, Marcopoulos continued his collaboration with Gucci with his book Dapper Dan's Harlem, which featured original photography of the neighborhood, as well as portraits of friends of Gucci and Dapper Dan, including director and designer Trevor Andrew, artist and author Cleo Wade, restaurateur and chef Marcus Samuelsson, and businessman and author Steve Stoute.


Marcopoulos's first mid-career survey in 2009 was curated by Stephanie Cannizzo for the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, California.[17]

Marcopoulos has been a featured artist in the 2002 and 2010 Whitney Biennial.[18]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 2005-2006: Ari Marcopoulos, MoMA PS1, New York [19]
  • 2008: Ari MAarcopoulos: Fear God, The Project, New York [20]
  • 2009: Ari Marcopoulos: Within Arm's Reach, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley [21]
  • 2011: Ari Marcopoulos: Abandoned Sleep, Ratio 3, San Francisco [22]
  • 2011: Ari Marcopoulos, White Columns, New York [23]
  • 2011: Ari Marcopoulos: This Week, Galerie Franz Elbaz, Paris [24]
  • 2015: Ari Marcopoulos: L1032015, Marlborough, New York [25]
  • 2017: Ari Marcopoulos: Machine, Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris [26]
  • 2017: Ari Marcopoulos: Machine, Fondation d'Entreprise Ricard, Paris [27]
  • 2019: Ari Marcopoulos. Films. Photographs., Fergus McCaffrey, New York [28]
  • 2019: Ari Marcopoulos. 3 Films. 3 Photographs., Fergus McCaffrey, Tokyo [29]


Short films[edit]

Year Title Synopsis
2017-2018 The Park Marcopoulos reveals the woven dynamics of public parks with the lives of New Yorkers by capturing moments found at a basketball court next to the Walt Whitman housing projects in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.[30]
2018 Monogram Hunters Marcopoulos goes inside the lives of the Monogram Hunters, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe, to learn more about the history and impact of their tribe in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward.[31]
2018 Upper Big Tracadie Marcopoulos visits the small town of Upper Big Tracadie, located in the Canadian province of Novia Scotia. The community was founded by freed American slaves who arrived to Canada in the 18th century.[32]

Music videos[edit]

Books (selection)[edit]

  • 1987: Portraits from the studio and the street [37]
  • 2000: Transitions and exits [38]
  • 2001: Pass the mic : Beastie Boys, 1991-1996 [39]
  • 2005: Out & about [40]
  • 2005: Even the president of the United States sometimes has got to stand naked [41]
  • 2007: Ad Rock [42]
  • 2008: The chance is higher [43]
  • 2009: Ari Marcopoulos: within arm's reach: [exhibition] [44]
  • 2015: Fumes: Ari Marcopoulos, Matthew Barney Studio [45]
  • 2016: Rome - Malibu [46]
  • 2016: Ari Marcopoulos: not yet [47]
  • 2018: The Athens dialogues [48]

Personal life[edit]

Marcopoulos has been in a relationship with American contemporary artist Kara Walker since 2015.[49]

He has two sons, Cairo and Ethan, from his previous marriage to Jennifer Goode. Both sons have been heavily featured in Marcopoulos's photography work.[50]

Marcopoulos lives in New York City.


  1. ^ "Ari Marcopoulos - 36 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  2. ^ "Biography of Ari Marcopoulos". Renabransten Gallery. Archived from the original on February 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
  3. ^ "Ari Marcopoulos | Fergus McCaffrey". Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  4. ^ "Ari Marcopoulos, galerie frank elbaz Paris". Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  5. ^ "ARI MARCOPOULOS | FILEP MOTWARY". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  6. ^ "Ari Marcopoulos". Interview Magazine. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  7. ^ "Ari Marcopoulos". Interview Magazine. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  8. ^ "Ari Marcopoulos: Within Arm's Reach (September 23, 2009 – February 7, 2010) | BAMPFA". Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  9. ^ "Ari Marcopoulos: Within Arm's Reach | BAMPFA". Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  10. ^ Marcopoulos, Ari; McCormick, Carlo; Miller, Paul D. (2001). Pass the Mic: Beastie Boys, 1991-1996. ISBN 1576871088.
  11. ^ "In a Flash A Look at the Life of Ari Marcopoulos". Grailed. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  12. ^ Rodriguez, Leah. "Adidas's Latest Collaborator Says Selfies Killed Subculture Worth Photographing". The Cut. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  13. ^ "Ari Marcopoulos". Interview Magazine. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  14. ^ "Ari Marcopoulos - A Pretty Loud Fly". Huck Magazine. 2010-03-02. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  15. ^ Whyte, Murray (2016-11-22). "Why Kara Walker's incendiary slavery art is as relevant as ever". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  16. ^ "Ecstasy of St. Kara | Yale University Press". Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  17. ^ "Ari Marcopoulos: Within Arm's Reach (September 23, 2009 – February 7, 2010) | BAMPFA". Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  18. ^ "Whitney Biennial 2002". Ari Marcopoulos. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  19. ^ "Ari Marcopoulos". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  20. ^ "Marcopoulos, Ari | Biography". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  21. ^ "Marcopoulos, Ari | Biography". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  22. ^ "Marcopoulos, Ari | Biography". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  23. ^ "Marcopoulos, Ari | Biography". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  24. ^ "Marcopoulos, Ari | Biography". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  25. ^ "Marcopoulos, Ari | Biography". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  26. ^ "Marcopoulos, Ari | Biography". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  27. ^ "Marcopoulos, Ari | Biography". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  28. ^ "Ari Marcopoulos. Films. Photographs. | Fergus McCaffrey". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  29. ^ "Ari Marcopoulos. 3 Films. 3 Photographs. | Fergus McCaffrey". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  30. ^ "Artwork Profile". Art Basel. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  31. ^ "ART-PRESENTATION: Ari Marcopoulos". Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  32. ^ "Upper Big Tracadie", Wikipedia, 2018-11-07, retrieved 2020-03-05
  33. ^ "Beastie Boys". Ari Marcopoulos. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  34. ^ "Beastie Boys". Ari Marcopoulos. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  35. ^ "Ratking - Piece of Shit". Ari Marcopoulos. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  36. ^ "Ratking - Canal". Ari Marcopoulos. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  37. ^ Marcopoulos, Ari (1987). Portraits from the studio and the street. Amsterdam: Bakker. ISBN 978-90-351-0522-5. OCLC 906578496.
  38. ^ Marcopoulos, Ari; Neri, Louise; Cortez, Diego (2000). Transitions and exits. New York, NY: PowerHouse Books. ISBN 978-1-57687-092-1. OCLC 44426927.
  39. ^ Marcopoulos, Ari; McCormick, Carlo; DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid (2001). Pass the mic: Beastie Boys, 1991-1996. New York: PowerHouse Books. ISBN 978-1-57687-108-9. OCLC 46810016.
  40. ^ Marcopoulos, Ari; Rose, Aaron; Korine, Harmony; Cortez, Diego (2005). Out & about. Bologna: Damiani. ISBN 978-88-89431-13-9. OCLC 62726641.
  41. ^ Marcopoulos, Ari (2005). Even the president of the United States sometimes has got to stand naked. Zurich: JRP-Ringier. ISBN 978-3-905701-35-7. OCLC 69940696.
  42. ^ Marcopoulos, Ari (2007). Ad Rock. Zurich, Switzerland: Nieves. ISBN 978-3-905714-25-8. OCLC 154790582.
  43. ^ Marcopoulos, Ari; Sigler, Jeremy (2008). The chance is higher. New York, NY: Dashwood Books. OCLC 351680523.
  44. ^ Marcopoulos, Ari; Cannizzo, Stephanie (2009). Ari Marcopoulos: within arm's reach : [exhibition], University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, September 23, 2009 - February 7, 2010. Zurich: JRP/Ringier. ISBN 978-3-03764-074-6. OCLC 638545964.
  45. ^ Marcopoulos, Ari (2015). Fumes: Ari Marcopoulos, Matthew Barney Studio. ISBN 978-1-942607-01-4. OCLC 928638070.
  46. ^ Marcopoulos, Ari; Walker, Kara Elizabeth (2016). Rome - Malibu. ISBN 978-94-91843-78-5. OCLC 959649708.
  47. ^ Marcopoulos, Ari; Barney, Matthew; Slifkin, Robert; Taft, Catherine; Wakefield, Neville (2016). Ari Marcopoulos: not yet. ISBN 978-0-8478-4888-1. OCLC 939994211.
  48. ^ Obrist, Hans Ulrich; Marcopoulos, Ari; Marta, Karen (2018). The Athens dialogues. ISBN 978-3-96098-389-7. OCLC 1042081599.
  49. ^ St. Félix, Doreen (2017-04-16). "After Her Sugar Sphinx, Kara Walker Is a Whole Different Kind of Public Figure". Vulture. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  50. ^ Abbott, Jeremy (2016-07-08). "an intimate look at modern-day new york from ari marcopoulos". i-D. Retrieved 2020-01-25.