Published by Blank Forms Editions. Edited by Scott Portnoy, Robert Snowden, Ciarán Finlayson. Photography by Katy Able, Carol Thompson, Curtis Cuffie, Michael Galinsky, Margaret Morton, Tom Warren.
Curtis Cuffie (1955–2002) was an artist from Harstville, South Carolina, who found local notoriety in the 1990s for the thrilling and surprising way he adorned the streets of New York’s East Village. His on-the-spot sculptures were woven into fences, hung from walls and sprawled along the Bowery and Cooper Square. Making use of whatever he could find to fashion works that were imaginative and real, Cuffie took the street for all it could provide: materials, an audience, a rhythm and a sense of the strange unexpectedness of public life. He was unhoused for stretches of his life, and his sculptures were viewed near to his outdoor quarters. Cuffie’s art was often removed by city sanitation, but new work would spring up soon after. Though little of his art survives today, a trove of photographs documenting it keeps him in the present. This publication, the first on Cuffie, seeks to honor the artist and rectify his omission by going backward to recover that which has been left behind. It places Cuffie’s own photographs and those of his companion Katy Able alongside pictures that photographers Margaret Morton and Tom Warren took of Cuffie and his art on the streets.