Photographer Peter Hujar, (1934–1987) who died of AIDS in 1987 at the age of fifty-three, has a new retrospective, Speed of Life, up now through May 20 at the Morgan Library & Museum. The works in the Morgan show range across the genres of portraiture, nudes and cityscape as well as some starting portraits, sometimes of the famous.
Hujar met David Wojnarowicz as a young hustler in late 80s (and who died from AIDS himself in ’92) and became soul mates in art. According to Peter Schjeldahl in The New Yorker, Wojnarowicz said that Hujar,
“was like the parent I never had, like the brother I never had.”
David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) has an upcoming show, History Keeps Me Awake at Nightopening this summer at New York’s Whitney museum. It’s the first major exhibit of his fiercely political and highly personal and work in over decade.
When I was designing a 40 Anniversary Issue of the photography magazine, Aperture (filling in for the great photo book art director, my pal, Yolanda Cuomo) I made one of the best two-page spreads of my design career, simply due to the remarkable photographs I was given to work with. One was the powerful Wojnarowicz self-portrait, his face half-covered with dirt, taken in ’91 shortly before his death, which I paired with Shomei Tomatsu‘s 1961 photograph of a watch face stopped by the bomb at Nagasaki. Both still haunting to this day.
An upcoming documentary on Wojnarowicz is being directed by Chris McKim (Out of Iraq) and produced by World of Wonder‘s Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato.
Mark Morrisroe (1959-1989) had a not dissimilar background to Wojnarowicz, coming to the East Village in the 80s and also working as a hustler. I met all of these three talents, but knew Morrisroe the best. I was introduced to him by gallerist Pat Hearn, when I designed a fold-out poster to announce his first show with her in ’86. After we became friends, he shot me with my dog, Spot, below.
His solo exhibition of photographs Boy Next Door (Beautiful But Dumb), is up through March 24 at Clamp Art in NYC. Morrisroe grew up, north of Boston, and went to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts with artists like Doug and Mike Starn, Jack Pierson & Pat Hearn. (Hearn & Pierson are pictured below.) ClampArt’s show comes from photographs acquired from Hearn before her death at 45 in 2000. Sadly, Mark died of AIDS a decade before at age 30 in 1989.
All three photographers are worth exploring further in these exhibits and all are an amazing record of their time, exciting, inspiring, as well as a sad reminder of the great talent lost what now seems like long ago.