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Peter Hujar: Lost Downtown
Text by Vince Aletti.
The Lower East Side between 1972 and 1985—filled with artists, wannabe artists and hangers-on—was a community of the misbegotten gathered from every town in America and relocated in the mean streets between Broadway and the Bowery, and Peter Hujar was right in the midst of it. Nothing but talent, flamboyance, rank gender-bending mockery and arch irony supported these artists: some made their names, many came to grief and a few made art. In those days, the gutted streets of the Lower East Side resembled a war-zone. Though some established artists had passed through—Rauschenberg and Johns, John Cage and Merce Cunningham—almost everyone lived and worked on the extreme outer margins of money and art, penniless and unknown. As a community, downtown New York was a counterstatement to the rich New York of the banks, museums, media, corporations and the art world itself. That downtown New York is gone: time, gentrification, disease and death have taken their toll and turned this vibrant epoch into a chapter in art history. But before it vanished, its extravagant cast sat for Peter Hujar’s camera, and with this volume, that community is vividly brought to life. Featured are Charles Ludlam, David Wojnarowicz, Edwin Denby, Susan Sontag, Paul Thek, Divine, Robert Wilson, John Waters, William S. Burroughs, Ray Johnson, Fran Lebowitz, Remy Charlip, Joe Brainard and many others.
Peter Hujar (1934–87) was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and moved to Manhattan to work in the magazine, advertising and fashion industries. He documented the vibrant cultural scene of downtown New York throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In 1976 he published Portraits in Life and Death, with an introduction by Susan Sontag. Hujar died of AIDS in 1987.
Featured image is reproduced from Peter Hujar: Lost Downtown.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
…the photographer who defined downtown New York.
Time, Best Photobooks of 2016
Peter Hujar was an underground legend in the downtown ethos of New York in the 1970s and 1980s…his portraits draw on a balance between Avedon’s existential minimalism and Diane Arbus’s psychological complexity. Hujar’s work, along with that of his younger contemporary Robert Mapplethorpe, reflects the deep current of sexual change that arose so powerfully to the surface in the 1970s and ‘80s.
STATUS: Out of stock indefinitely.
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 1/27/2018
"John Waters (1)” (1975) is reproduced from Peter Hujar: Lost Downtown, a wonderful companion to the show currently on view at the Morgan Library & Museum. Hujar “went places I never dared to, and hung out with people I’d only read about,” Vince Aletti writes. “He was charismatic and complicated and, it turned out, deeply insecure, with a damaging family history he kept mostly to himself… if he was discouraged—and he often was—he didn’t let it keep him from that evening’s screening, concert, dance performance, press party, nightclub opening, or tour of the baths. His hunger helped whet my appetite for new experiences…” continue to blog
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 1/26/2018
Featured image, titled "Candy Darling on Her Deathbed" (1973) is reproduced from Peter Hujar: Lost Downtown. An exquisitely produced book in every way, Lost Downtown encapsulates in just 20 iconic photographs the liberated gay and trans art and intellectual scene of 1970s NYC. "Peter saw" his subjects, Vince Aletti writes, "got them, with an understanding that was beyond words. Peter loved a fabulous façade, but he was only happy when he could get past it, dig deeper, and connect." This book is a must-have companion to the retrospective on view through May 20 at the Morgan Library & Museum. continue to blog
USD $65.00 | CAN $90 UK £ 57
Pub Date: 11/29/2022
Active | In stock