19 - 24 Jul 2014
Self-Portrait Smoking, 1958
© 1987 The Peter Hujar Archive LLC. Courtesy Maureen Paley, London; Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York
In her introduction to Portraits in Life and Death, Susan Sontag wrote, ‘... Fleshed and moist-eyed friends and acquaintances stand, sit, slouch, mostly lie – and are made to appear to meditate on their own mortality... Peter Hujar knows that portraits in life are always, also, portraits in death.’
Working in black and white, Hujar vividly documented a New York that has been all but lost to us today. Hujar was a contemporary and friend of Diane Arbus, and both were admirers of Weegee and shared his dark vision. Regardless of subject
matter - from the catacombs in Palermo to abandoned, wrecked cars; Hujar is a classicist whose distinctive style echoes further back to historical figures such as Atget and Brassaï. Hujar was a mentor and friend to the artists David Wojnarowicz and Paul Thek and his work would go on to influence photographers like Nan Goldin and Robert Mapplethorpe. His sensibility, concentration, eye for detail, and feel for light and texture enabled him to find mystery where none is apparent, beauty in the mundane, and grace in disintegration. All of Hujar's work is imbued with a deep sense of mortality and he makes visible an awareness of life and death as forever enmeshed... a depth of soul.
Born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1934, Peter Hujar received his first camera in 1947. His works have been exhibited throughout Europe and the United States. He died of complications accompanying AIDS in 1987.
Selected solo exhibitions include Peter Hujar, Fotografien - Kunstparterre e.V., Munich, 2012; Peter Hujar, Stills, Edinburgh, 2008; Peter Hujar, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 2007; Peter Hujar, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, 2005.
Recent group exhibitions include Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, 2013; Glam! The Performance of Style, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, 2013. Travelled to Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Frankfurt, 2013; Skin to Skin - Uber Haut und Häute, Gewerbemuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, 2013; Macho Man, Tell It To My Heart: Collected by Julie Ault, Artists Space, New York, 2013; Paul Thek and His Circle, Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, 2013; Changing Difference. Queer Politics And Shifting Identities, Galleria Civica di Modena, Modena, 2012-2013; This Will Have Been: Art, Love, & Politics in the 1980s, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Travelled to Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Institute of Contemporary Art, London; Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, 2012; Gaze - The Changing Face of Portrait Photography, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, 2012; Body Language, Centre culturel Suisse, Paris, 2012; The Piers, Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, 2012; Shared Vision: The Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla Collection of Photography, Aperture Gallery, New York, 2012; Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2012; Unsettled: Photography and Politics in Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 2011; The Life and Death of Buildings, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, 2011; Tales of The City: Art Fund International and the GoMA Collection, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, 2011; Accomplices, The photographer and the artist around 1970, Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej w Warszawie, Warsaw, 2011; I am a Cliché, Ecos da Estética Punk, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, CCBB, Rio de Janeiro, 2011.
Selected publications include Peter Hujar: Love & Lust, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, 2014; Paul P. When Ghost Meets Ghost, Peter Hujar, Maureen Paley, London, 2008; Animals, BukAmerica, Los Angeles 2006; Peter Hujar: Night, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, 2005; Animals and Nudes, Twin Palms, Santa Fe, 2002; Peter Hujar: An Intimate Survey, Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago, 1999; Peter Hujar: A Retrospective, Scalo Publishers, Zurich, Berlin, New York, 1994); Peter Hujar, Grey Art Gallery, New York, 1990; Portraits in Life and Death, Da Capo Press, New York, 1976.