Ghana’s Asante king, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has been featured in the 2024 edition of the famed Pirelli Calendar. This is the first time an African monarch has been featured in the renowned trade calendar since its launch in 1964, according to the king’s Manhyia palace.
The Pirelli Calendar is an annual publication by the Italian tyre company Pirelli’s UK subsidiary. Also known as The Cal, the purpose of the calendar is “to mark the passing of time”. When it was launched in 1964 as an exclusive gift for Pirelli’s top clients and business partners, it was known for featuring “artistic and provocative” photographs of well-known models, actresses, and celebrities. It has since rebranded as can be seen in the 2024 edition which includes royal dignitaries, celebrities and models.
To date, the calendar is not for sale but is gifted to a small group of Pirelli clients and celebrities. About 20,000 copies are made annually and the budget for each edition is usually about $2 million.
The historic 2024 edition coincides with Ghana’s Otumfuo Osei Tutu II’s Silver Jubilee as monarch of the Asante kingdom (or Asantehene). Otumfuo Osei Tutu II appeared in this edition alongside stars such as Naomi Campbell, Idris Elba, and Angela Bassett.
28-year-old Ghanaian Prince Gyasi was chosen for this project, making him the first Black and first African photographer to shoot the calendar. He said that being called to photograph the 50th edition of the Calendar was “humbling”.
“I’m one of the youngest to do it and it’s amazing, it’s amazing,” he said.
Gyasi started his photography career using an iPhone on the streets of Ghana’s capital Accra when he was 16. He has since gone on to create campaigns for Puma and Balmain, with his work appearing in the pages of Vanity Fair and GQ, CNN reported.
The theme of his Pirelli calendar is “Timeless,” as represented by Campbell in front of a melting, Dali-esque clock.
“The best definition of ‘timeless’ is something that stands the test of time — and that is still quality,” said Gyasi. “For me, it was to create something that if I look at it in 20 years, that I still love it … That it doesn’t look dated, right?”
The young Ghanaian visual artist said he decided to do a shoot in his home country with the king and other personalities because he wanted to give people a chance to learn about Ghana’s culture and appreciate its natural resources such as gold and cocoa.