Bob Recine’s stunning new book Alchemy of Beauty reveals the elaborate, creative punk genius of an artist whose drawings, paintings, collages, photographs and sculptures have become some of the most exuberant works seen in popular culture today. Bob Recine has amazed thousands with his work, through its bold manipulation of medium over subject, turning hair into an form that bridges seamlessly between high fashion and contemporary art.
“Sculpture is the noblest art,” writes Rene Ricard in the opening essay titled A Wig by Leonardo DaVinci. “It is not a stretch to state that what Bob Recine has always done with hair is a form of sculpture. That’s not just formally true. Hair as a material would enter his consciousness without an act of will.” Locating beauty through design is Recine’s never-ending goal, revealing one perfect aesthetic moment after another in compositions that are racked with painstaking attention to every handmade detail. “I have always been fascinated with the power and mystery of beauty,” says Recine.
Having grown up in New York City during the 1960s, when motorcycle gangs sprayed painted their bikes and sported tattoos, the artist was amazed by the use of renegade urban art to claim cutting-edge identities within the stiff, conservative arena of Cold War society. As a youth he was also drawn to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and the gothic monster’s tender heart in the midst of apparent horror.
In a recent interview, Recine identifies himself as both a rebel and adventurer who once played in numerous bands with the goal of creating that stunning, breathless moment. A large part of his works on view in Alchemy, are Recine’s collaborations with the photographer Mario Sorrenti - as well as Robbie Fimmano and Steven Sebring - to achieve the same effect. For Recine, “collaboration is alchemy and can only affirm itself when beauty appears.”
- Jill Conner