Peter Hujar: Speed of Life

The life and art of Peter Hujar (1934–1987) were rooted in downtown New York. Private by nature, combative in manner, well-read, and widely connected, Hujar inhabited a world of avant-garde dance, music, art, and drag performance. His mature career paralleled the public unfolding of gay life between the Stonewall uprising in 1969 and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

In his loft studio in the East Village, Hujar focused on those who followed their creative instincts and shunned mainstream success. He made, in his words, “uncomplicated, direct photographs of complicated and difficult subjects,” immortalizing moments, individuals, and subcultures passing at the speed of life.

Peter Hujar: Speed of Life was on view at the Morgan Library through May 20, 2018.

Cat on Cash Register, 1957
Chloe Finch, 1981
Reclining Nude on Couch, 1978
Daisy Aldan, June 18, 1955
Nude Self-Portrait, Running, 1966-67

For a 1966-67 workshop led by Richard Avedon and art director Marvin Israel, Hujar turned in an uncharacteristic series of nude, running self-portraits made with a flash unit in the studio of his employer. In a conscious echo of Avedon’s manner, the images emphasize action, vivid gesture and empty space- sensational effects calculated to hold a magazine page. Over the next couple of years, during Hujar’s brief pursuit of a career in fashion, the two photographers had frequent late-night phonecalls. Avedon wrote to him in 1979, ”if you ever have new work that you’re interested in selling, please call me as I am your collector.”

New York: Sixth Avenue (1), 1976
Candy Darling on Her Deathbed, 1973

In September 1973, transgender Warhol Superstar Candy Darling (born James Lawrence Slattery) was hospitalized for lymphoma. She asked Hujar to make a portrait of her ”as a farewell to my fans.” Out of several dozen exposures, Hujar chose to print this languorous pose. As rendered in the print, Candy’s banal, fluorescent-lit hospital room looks as elegant as the studio props in a Hollywood starlet’s portrait. Hujar later wrote that his style cues came from Candy, who was ”playing every death scene from every movie.”

The image, first seen in print in the New York Post after Candy’s death six months later, became the most widely reproduced of Hujar’s works during his lifetime.

Fran Lebowitz at Home in Morristown, New Jersey, 1974
Dana Reitz’s legs, Walking, 1979 & Sheryl Sutton, 1977
John McClellan, 1981
Stephen Varble (3), 1976
Edwin Denby (1), 1975
Rose and Edward Murphy (2), 1977

Hujar photographed his mother and her second husband, Ed ”Snookie” Murphy, on a rare occasion when they visited his loft. Obliged at age eleven to move into their one-bedroom apartment on E 32nd St., Hujar had moved out at sixteen. In adulthood, he maintained a protective distance, consistently referring to Rose Murphy by her full, unrelated-sounding name. Rose Murphy never reconciled herself to her son’s homosexuality, nor did he forgive her rejection.

When invited to a friend’s for dinner, Hujar often gave his host a recent photograph printed at a modest scale. No other print of this image is known.

The Morgan Library & Museum

May 20th, 2018

The Muppets (& Other Puppets)

@the_Museum_of_the_Moving_Image

From The Jim Henson Exhibition which features all our favourite puppets from The Muppet Show and Sesame Street, and a whole range of character sketches, storyboards, scripts, photographs, and costumes from Jim Henson’s universe. It is now travelling, currently stopped at the Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque, NM, until April 19, 2020. Check here for future venues.

”The Jim Henson Exhibition features a broad range of objects from throughout his remarkable career. It reveals how Henson and his team of builders, performers, and writers brought to life the enduringly popular worlds of The Muppet Show, the Muppet movies, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. It also includes material from Henson’s experimental film projects and his early work, presenting him as a restlessly creative performer, filmmaker, and technical innovator.”

Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York

May 13th, 2018

Museum of the City of New York

Kubrick or no Kubrick, learning about New York City’s past, present and future in a dedicated Museum, is fun. As is capturing Starlight, the brilliant light fixture by Cooper Joseph Studio which dominates its entrance and lights up the circular staircase.

Images:

Poster detail from the Suffrage parade through Madison Square, 1915. The ladies were dressed in white, emblem of purity, which was a way for more moderate suffragists to show their support for the vote.

Detail from ”Ruckus Manhattan: Wall Street-Newsstand and Lamppost, 1976
Papier-mâché, wood, plastic, fiberglass and vinyl by Red Grooms, Mimi Gross and Ruckus Construction Company

”The Truth Is… I See You”, speech bubbles by Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976)
MetroTech Commons, 2015

A boot, worn by ”Mrs. Potts” in Beauty and the Beast, 1993-94

Museum of the City of New York, East Harlem, Manhattan

May 9th, 2018

Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs

Stanley Kubrick was just 17 when he sold his first photograph to the pictorial magazine Look in 1945. In his photographs, many unpublished, Manhattan-born and Bronx-raised Kubrick trained the camera on his native city, drawing inspiration from the nightclubs, street scenes, and sporting events that made up his first assignments, and capturing the pathos of ordinary life with a sophistication that belied his young age.

Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs features more than 120 photographs by Kubrick from the Look Magazine archive of the Museum of the City of New York, an unparalleled collection that includes 129 photography assignments and more than 12,000 negatives from his five years as a staff photographer.

The exhibition was on show in the Museum of the City of New York through October 2018, a tribute to the great cinematographer-to-be, capturing life in his City. It is now traveling and on show in Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles through March 8, 2020.

Park Benches: Love is Everywhere
Unpublished, filed: May 1, 1946

This series of photographs captured New Yorkers, many unaware of Kubrick’s camera, in romantic situations on park benches, fire escapes and other locations. Several images were probably taken with infrared film and flash, which allowed Kubrick to photograph in the dark. Kubrick likely learned of this technology, rare among magazine photographers at the time, from the celebrated tabloid photographer Weegee, who used the technique in the early 1940s to photograph seemingly unaware patrons at movie theatres.


Dentist’s Office: Americans Are Dutiful but Nervous Dental Patients
Published: October 1, 1946


While Mama Shops: Kids are Bored, Get into Mischief While Mom’s Away
Published: March 18, 1947


Advertising Sign Painters at Work
Unpublished, Filed: September 3, 1947

Kubrick shared this unpublished assignment with two other photographers, Frank Bauman and Tom Weber. The photographers documented a publicity stunt performed by sign painters and a live female model as they created a billboard for a Peter Pan bra advertisement high above the corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.


Shoeshine Boy
Unpublished, Filed: October 6th, 1947

One of the earliest narrative assignments Kubrick created for Look was a series of photographs of Mickey, an adolescent shoeshine boy. Kubrick shot more than 250 photographs that closely followed Mickey through the course of his day.


Columbia University
Author: Don Wharton, Published: May 11, 1948


Wash Day: Look visits a Greenwich Village Self-Service Laundry
Published: April 27, 1948


Midsummer Nights in New York
Author: Patricia Coffin, Published: July 19, 1949


Rosemary Williams: Showgirl
Unpublished. Filed: March 1949

One of Kubrick’s largest unpublished profiles, approximately 700 images of aspiring model and actress Rosemary Williams, was likely created for a proposed day-in-the-life piece contrasting her onstage persona and her backstage real life.


A Dog’s Life in the Big City
Author: Isabella Taves
Published: November 8, 1949

Exploring the lives of New York’s 291,018 licensed dogs, this story extolled an ”only in New York” quirkiness that Look often promoted in its coverage of the city.


What Teenagers Should Know About Love
Author: Evelyn Millis Duvall
Published: October 10, 1950


Museum of the City of New York, East Harlem, Manhattan

May 9th, 2018

David Bowie Is…

Farewell to April and farewell to David, who is now and forever somewhere else. First time I listened to his music again, since he became immortal in 2016. It was well curated, the exhibition in the Brooklyn Museum, a bit smaller than the original in the V&A but, after David’s passing, all the more emotional.

Back to Manhattan, into the alien world of NYC Subway. Ensamble Ferroeléctrico de Marte, anonymous musicians with iron masks that look like animals. Music for the urban jungle.

April 29th, 2018

PS: My take of the original exhibition in V&A London in 2013, is here{x}

Young Contemporaries 2018 @ The Halsey

A long-standing tradition at the College of Charleston, Young Contemporaries is an annual exhibition presented by the Halsey Institute, featuring work by College students selected by a nationally prominent juror.

In 2018, the 33rd Annual Juried Student Exhibition was curated by Amy Yoes.

Hope Morgan
Smokers, 2017-18
Charcoal on paper


Austin Darby
Moon, 2017
Graphite and charcoal on paper


Austin Darby
Edge City, 2017
Graphite and charcoal on paper


3 untitled works (2017) by Bow Smith
Liquid silver emulsion print


Lilli Cameron
Le Petit Déjeuner, 2017
Graphite on paper

on top of

”Many faces”, 2018 by Hailee Selby
Paper and wire


Danielle Dungo
Rose Series, 2017-18
Oil on panel


Chloe Hogan
Sunday Afternoon, 2018
Oil on canvas


Timothy Hunter
(I Can’t) Stop Daydreaming, 2018
Oil on canvas


Danielle Dungo
Self Portrait, 2018
Oil on canvas


And the winner was…

Anna Newell
Closish, 2018
Graphite and charcoal on paper

YC18 Best in Drawing

A small, personal selection from the Young Contemporaries 2018 @ The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

Charleston, SC

April 11th, 2018

July 20, 1969 || One small step for Man

Buzz Aldrin Walking on the Surface of the Moon Near a Leg of the Lunar Module,


Buzz Aldrin with Apollo 11 Lunar Module on the Moon, Neil Armstrong


Apollo 11 Command and Service Modules Photographed from the Lunar Module in Orbit, 1


Buzz Aldrin on the Moon with the American Flag,


Astronauts in Lifeboat After Apollo 11 Splashdown,


Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art, surveys visual representations of the moon from the dawn of photography through the present. In addition to photographs, the show features a selection of related drawings, prints, paintings, films, astronomical instruments, and cameras used by Apollo astronauts.

It will run through September 22, 2019. One more good reason to return to the Met.

July 20th, 2019

*NSFW* || The Incomplete Araki

*But if you are at work and looking, I promise not to judge you…!

New York’s Museum of Sex is nowhere near the top of my ”places-to-see” list; it didn’t even make it to my ”tourist-traps-but-should-go-at-least-once” list. That was until ”The Incomplete Araki” a major retrospective about the erotic, provocative, sensual, eclectic and deeply, deeply personal work by one of the most notorious photographers of our times came up, back in 2018;  it was time to make an exception.

Lady Gaga
Nobuyoshi Araki, 2011
Gelatin silver print

This print originally comes from a 2009 photoshoot with Lady Gaga for Voguy Hommes Japan, and is distinctive because it combined for the first time Gaga’s particular brand of global superstardom and Araki’s signature use of bondage.


Self-portrait with Yōko (Colourscapes)
Nobuyoshi Araki, 1991
C-print

In all the ways that Araki chooses to represent himself in his photography – whether it be via self-portrait, metaphor, brushstroke or through documentary practice – perhaps none are so charged as the ones where he seeks to express how his marriage to his wife Yōko resulted in the most complex and private component of his identity.


Colourscapes
Nobuyoshi Araki, 1991
C-print


Winter Journey
Nobuyoshi Araki, 1989-90/2005
Gelatin silver print


Sentimental Journey
Nobuyoshi Araki, 1971/2017
Gelatin sliver print

”There is a picture of Yōko sleeping on a boat on the Yanagawa River,” Araki has said, about on of his favourite images from Sentimental Journey. ”It was our honeymoon, so she was exhausted from all the sex. In Japan we say that you cross the Sanzu River when you depart to the ‘other world’. I had no intention of taking a picture like that, so I feel like maybe God or someone made me take that picture. Her posture is like that of a fetus.”


Araki and Yōko met while they were both employed at the Japanese advertising firm Dentsu, in the late 1960s. They were married in 1971 and for the next 19 years, their relationship – everyday life, sex, their cat Chiro, Yōko’s sudden diagnosis of ovarian cancer, her illness, her death, her funeral – would be the basis for photographic work infused with intimacy, unabashed directness and a kind of evolving understanding that even the ferocious love Araki felt for Yōko would end, like all journeys do.

Complement:

Start your day with a good breakfast together, 2009
From the series Experimental Relationship
Chromogenic prints

&

Soft-heeled Shoes, 2013
3D printed Polyjet photopolymers, suede shoes, metal

by Pixy Liao


India in Woodstock, 2013
From the series Pheromone Hotbox

&

Céline, 2016
From the series Vénéneuse

by Amanda Charchian


Museum of Sex, Manhattan

February 18th, 2018

David Hockney

What I was saying yesterday, about popular exhibitions? Well, David Hockney’s major retrospective held at the Met between November 2017 & February 2018, was one of them.  Impossible to enjoy – oftentimes not being able to see anything at all, multiple rows of heads obscuring the art. So crowded were the galleries, we soon gave up. But not before catching at least a few striking images on camera, the most ”presentable” of which I’m glad to share today with you.

Art:

1/ & 2/
My Parents, 1977
Oil on canvas

3/
Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, 1968
Acrylic on canvas

4/
The Cha-Cha That Was Danced in the Early Hours of 24th March, 1961
Oil on canvas

5/
Self-portrait, 1983
Charcoal on paper

David Hockney @The Metropolitan Museum of Art

February 17th, 2018

Met Breuer

Edvard Munch always makes a strong impression but, in this case, the same can be said about the host building. This is Met Breuer, built in 1966 and named after its Brutalist architect Marcel Breuer, who designed it to house the Whitney Museum – and so it did until 2015, when the Whitney moved to its current location in downtown Manhattan, and this beautiful concrete ”inverted ziggurat” was leased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Artwork from “Delirious Art at the Limits of Reason 1950-1980”, an exhibition running in parallel to Edvard Munch’s “Between the Clock and the Bed”.

 

Credits:

Cob II, 1977-80 by Nancy Grossman
Wood, leather, painted horn, lacquer, lead

13/3, 1981 by Sol LeWitt
Painted balsa wood

Beginning Study for Changes and Communication, 1978 by Alfred Jensen
Oil on canvas

Three Mirror Vortex, 1965 by Robert Smithson
Stainless steel, three mirrors

My Father Pledged Me a Sword, 1975, by Anselm Kiefer
Watercolour, gouache, coloured pencil and ballpoint pen on paper

Met Breuer, 945 Madison Avenue, Manhattan

December 28th, 2017