Jan Stussy
Title: Thoughts on the Death of Bob Greenberg (from the series The Man in the Box)
Medium: Mixed media on Masonite. 1972

As an artist and teacher, Jan Stüssy was a firm believer in the importance of a solid grounding in art history. Drawing on the example of Leonardo da Vinci, Stüssy felt it was crucial for artists to understand human anatomy, so he regularly took his UCLA drawing classes to the medical school to observe human dissections.

In this painting of a man (or men) depicted in a circle inscribed in a box, da Vinci shows up visually. The painting makes a direct reference to his famous drawing called the Vitruvian Man.

Jan Stüssy
God’s Acrobat (Enigmatic Figure)
c. 1975. Mixed media on Masonite

In 1977, Stüssy wrote, produced and directed Gravity is My Enemy, a short film about the life and practice of Mark Hicks, an artist with quadriplegia who had been a student of his at UCLA. It was Stüssy’s first film and it went on to win an Academy Award. Though this painting of an enigmatic figure predates the Academy Award by two years, its attenuated form rather resembles the Oscar statuette.

Jan Stüssy
Family of Acrobatic Jugglers
1970. Lithograph

The surfwear and skater clothing brand Stüssy was created in the early 1980s by Shawn Stussy, the nephew of Jan Stüssy. Shawn Stussy asked his uncle for permission to use the artist’s distinctive signature as the company logo, with the striking umlaut over the “u” and the long-tailed “y.”