Photographer, Director, Writer
Hear from photographer Dario Calmese, the first African American to photograph the cover of Vanity Fair. Dario is the host of the podcast Institute of Black Imagination.
Technical Level: General Audience
Sitting at the nexus of art, fashion, and academia, Dario is an artist, writer, director and brand consultant currently based in New York City. He received his master’s in photography from the School of Visual Arts and his bachelors in psychology at Rockhurst University in Kansas City. Classically trained in the performing arts, he uses his knowledge of movement, gesture, and psychology to create complex characters and narratives that explore history, race, class, and what it means to be human.
In 2020 he made history as the first Black photographer to shoot a cover for Vanity Fair in it’s 106-year history with his portrait of Oscar-winning actress, Viola Davis. 2020 also saw the launch of his widely-acclaimed podcast,The Institute of Black Imagination, which features conversations from the Pool of Black Genius through the lens of design.
His artistic works have been shown both nationally and internationally (Fridman, Steven Kasher, Jack Shainman, NYC), National Museum of Turkmenistan [Artist Ambassador for the U.S. State Department]. Dario serves on the advisory board of The Museum at FIT and is a former Ideas City Fellow at the New Museum in New York City. He is a contributing writer for The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast and The Business of Fashion and is currently a NYC Urban Design Forum Fellow. Most recently Dario curated Fashioning the Black Body (2019), and his show direction for the fashion brand Pyer Moss has been consistently hailed in Vogue and The New York Times as the “best show of Fashion Month.”
His essay, “To Be American” on the life of fashion designer Willi Smith, is featured in Street Couture for the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, published by Rizzoli in 2020.
Selected clients include: The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Pyer Moss, Numero Berlin, CBS, Public School, Beyoncé, The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), The Plaza Hotel, New York University, Restoration Hardware, Suited Magazine.
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