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Edited by Beatrix Ruf, Thomas Seelig. Text by Stuart Comer, Elisabeth Lebovici, Fionn Meade, Linda Yablonsky.
A luminous comet shooting across the late 70s constellation of photographers and artists that included Nan Goldin, David Armstrong, Jack Pierson and Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Mark Morrisroe produced an incredibly rich and various body of work in the brief ten-plus years in which he was active. He survived a fraught childhood and teen years as a prostitute (he was once shot by a client) to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he made friendships with Goldin, Armstrong and others, performed in drag under the name Sweet Raspberry, cofounded the punk zine Dirt ("he sort of invented the Boston punk scene," Jack Pierson later recalled) and eventually graduated from the school with honors. Shortly after, Morrisroe moved to New York, acquired a Polaroid camera and began photographing. Most of his photographs are portraits--of hustlers, lovers, friends and of himself--or hand-painted photograms. Morrisroe is also famed for his X-ray self-portraits, which show the bullet lodged near his spine after his shooting. All of his output carries this reckless, go-for-broke character, and an edge of urgency and necessity. After his death (from AIDS-related illnesses), more than 2,000 Polaroids were found among his possessions. This first comprehensive monograph compiles photographs and ephemera from the early punk years to Super-8 films, photograms and the late self-portraits. More than 500 photographs are reproduced here, alongside essays and an extensive biography.
Born to a drug-addicted mother, Mark Morrisroe (1959-1989) left home at 13, began hustling at 15 and at 17 was shot in the back by a client. The entirety of Morrisroe's brief life was characterized by danger and poverty, and mythologized by him as such: his mother was a friend and neighbor of Albert DeSalvo (aka the Boston Strangler) and Morrisroe claimed to be his illegitimate son. Morrisroe died in 1989.
Featured images, Polaroid portraits of the artist Jack Pierson, made in approximately 1980 and 1979, are by the under-recognized and profoundly poetic Boston School photographer, Mark Morrisroe, whose work can be seen for the first time in its entirety in this long-awaited monograph, Mark Morrisroe. Pierson, then-known as Jonathan, and Morrisroe met in 1978, and stayed closely connected to one-another for more than three years, photographing, drawing and painting one-another, experimenting with drugs and celebrating "an open, unconventional sexuality," according to essayist Teresa Gruber. Morrisroe died in 1989, at the age of 30, from HIV-related complications.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
Art in America
"Morrisroe died at just thirty. But by then he had accomplished a considerable life's work. According to Gruber's catalogue essay, hisoeuvre comprises about 2,000 photographs, including 800 polaroids, 600 gelatin silver prints, and 200 C-prints nd sandwich prints. There are also 60 cyanotypes and gum prints, boxes and boxes of fascinating ephemera and 3 super-8 films."
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FROM THE BOOK
"'Mark had a fiery brilliance… He was constantly creative and weaving his future out loud—always saying how great he already was and that was compelling. He had the urban allure for me. He was making things, he was in it, decorating windows, creating his own magazine, taking picture. He also made objects. He bronzed his shoes, which he'd wear out in a month. He'd take pictures from porn magazines and fringe them with scissors, then put the images in an empty candy box and leave it somewhere for the sheer joy of what people would think when they found them. I loved that as an idea… It was still about the process but it could be thrown away or collected. And that subtlety stayed with me for years.'"
Jack Pierson, quoted by essayist Linda Yablonsky in Mark Morrisroe.
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
ALEX GALAN | DATE 6/16/2011
On Thursday, June 9th, ARTBOOK @ Paper Chase in Los Angeles hosted an evening celebrating the life and work of Mark Morrisroe, the seminal artist at the heart of the Boston School of photography and a key figure in the New York downtown scene of the 80s. continue to blog
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
JAMES LUCAS | DATE 3/8/2011
On Saturday, March 5, 2011, the first U.S. retrospective exhibition of Mark Morrisroe's work opened at Artists Space in New York. The heartbreaking show features photographs, polaroids, and ephemera, including issues of the punk zine Dirt, which Morrisroe co-founded with friend Lynelle White around 1975. A major monograph published by JRP accompanies the exhibition which, in a different form, was first mounted at the Kunsthalle Zurich under the direction of Beatrix Ruf. A contemporary of Jack Pierson, Nan Goldin, and David Armstrong, Morrisroe (1959-1989) documented his life and the lives of friends, hustlers, and lovers in photographs - Polaroids, "sandwich prints," hand-painted photograms - which beautifully capture the urgency and ephemerality of the post-punk scene in Boston and New York in the 1970s and 80s. In attendance at Saturday’s event were intimates such as Jack Pierson (known to Morrisroe as Jonathan) and admirers Collier Schorr, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, and Joan Jonas. The evening ended underground at the SubMercer lounge. continue to blog
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