Master Classic: A 4-Way Portrait of Ernie K-Doe – Emperor of the World
by Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas needs no introduction to collectors of Jazz Fest and Congo Square posters. His portrait of Fats Domino UF89), commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Jazz Fest, launched the portrait series that continues to this day. His 2006 Congo Square poster (CS06) showed him making this early form truly his own. He is an artist, gallerist and teacher. His work is instantly recognizable even as it continues to evolve.
His approach to his subject is masterful. K-Doe went through many phases, not all of them pretty. Thomas curated K-Doe’s career highs and matched each one to a style he developed and utilized during his own artistic arc. The upper left 1961 portrait t racks the pop 60’s style Thomas used in his Fats Domino classic. The upper right concert era of the later GO’s is appropriately done in a solarized psychedelia motif. K-Doe’s WWOZ years showcases Thomas· return to the realism he used so effectively in his early political paintings. He imparts his current artistic innovations to his portrait of the emperor in all his glory. This lower right quadrant is a culmination of the styles that led to it realism amplified by expressionism overlaid with exuberantly joyful pop jottings.