Peter Hujar (1934–1987) is best known for his powerful and piercing portraits of personalities, famous and behind the scenes, animals, and wrecked cars. Ranging from glamorous studio portraits to dark images in catacombs, Hujar’s work is known for the texture and poignancy with which he explores decay, sexuality, death, and the life we share in common. As Nan Goldin writes, “His pictures are exotic but not in a shallow, sensational way. Looking at his photographs of nude men, even of a naked baby boy, is the closest I ever came to experience what it is to inhabit male flesh. His photographs of animals have that same rare empathy, they are like highly personal portraits.”
His work has been the subject of retrospectives at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Fotomuseum in Winterthur, Switzerland. In 2005–2006 PS1 exhibited an important survey of Hujar’s work, and in 2007 the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London mounted a substantial exhibition. In January 2017, a major touring retrospective opened at Barcelona’s Fundación MAPFRE, accompanied by an expansive catalogue. The exhibition traveled to Fotomuseum The Hague, The Morgan Library & Museum, Berkeley Art Museum, and the Wexner Center for the Arts.