Antonio Lopez was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico on February 11th, 1943. In 1950 his family relocated to New York City where Lopez attended P.S. 77 and was later encouraged by his art teacher to attend the High School of Arts and Design, an incubator for teenagers who demonstrated exceptional artistic talent.
In 1962 Lopez enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, where he met and began his life-long creative collaboration with Juan Ramos (b. 1942 in Caguas, Puerto Rico). Within 18 months, Lopez was offered a job as the in-house illustrator for Women’s Wear Daily, while simultaneously contributing to The New York Times Magazine.
Lopez’s career skyrocketed throughout the mid-1960s spiraling upwards through the nation's newspapers, magazines, and department stores. As part of the international "youthquake", Lopez seized the opportunity to revolutionize an industry still mired in a mid-20th century "Anglo-Caucasian myopia” and was among the very first to introduce people of color as models, pioneering a new American multiculturalism that had yet to hit the mainstream media.
Lopez and Ramos lived and worked in the famed Carnegie Hall Studios, which was the epicenter of the hip, swinging 60s world that they had created for themselves. With a growing client list that included the likes of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle Magazine, and Saks Fifth Avenue, the duo became a fixture of the art and fashion scene of New York City, dancing at Electric Circus, hanging out at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, and spending late nights at Max’s Kansas City where they befriended many of their contemporaries (Andy Warhol, Bill Cunningham, Charles James) and scouted most of their models (Donna Jordan, Jane Forth, Corey Tippin, Pat Cleveland).
Tiring of the confines imposed by the American fashion establishment, Lopez and Ramos relocated to Paris in 1970 where they lived in an apartment on the left bank owned by Karl Lagerfeld with whom they had a close friendship and mutual interest in the visual language and design from the 1920s and 30s. Karl, in turn, was inspired by the freedom and creativity Antonio and Juan possessed and was able to successfully launch a new phase of his own career, which until then had been held back by the restrictive nature of the French fashion industry.
Lopez and Ramos remained in Paris until 1975 where they worked for all the major European fashion magazines and created campaigns for fashion houses and department stores such a Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Armani, Missoni, and Galeries Lafayette. Travelling extensively throughout Europe and Japan, the artists befriended a host of new women who would become their models and muses, including Jerry Hall, Paloma Picasso, Grace Jones, Jessica Lange, and Tina Chow.
In addition to his prolific drawing, painting, and illustrating practice, Antonio began experimenting with photography to document the glamorous people and exotic places around him. He favored low-fi over studio production, often shooting numerous frames and later curating them into grid compositions which revealed a cinematic progression of time and a multilayered study of his subjects.
Returning to New York City in 1975, Antonio and Juan settled into a large studio on Broadway and 18th street and continued their work as the preeminent fashion illustrators of the time. The free-love counter culture had broken through, and Antonio’s vision for a more inclusive fashion world was beginning to be embraced by a broader public.
Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos died from complications related to AIDS in 1987 and 1995, respectively.
Their work has been exhibited at LAFORET Museum, Tokyo (1987); The Museum at FIT, New York (1988); Musée des Arts Decoratifs Palais du Louvre, Paris (1994); Modemuseum, Munich (1995); MUDAC, Lausanne (1996); Royal College of Art, London (1997); Design Museum, London (2010); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2011); The Society of Illustrators, New York (2011); Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2011-2012); Savannah College of Arts and Design Museum, Georgia (2013); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2014); Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg (1996 & 2014); and more recently at El Museo del Barrio, New York (2016); The Getty Center, Los Angeles (2018); and Centro Cultural de Cascais, Portugal (2019). Previous publications include, Antonio's Girls (Congreve, 1982), Antonio's Tales from the Thousand and One Nights (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1985), Antonio, 60, 70, 80: Three Decades in Style (Schirmer/Mosel, 1995), Antonio's People (Thames & Hudson 2004), Antonio Lopez: Instamatics (Twin Palms, 2012), and Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco (Rizzoli, 2012).