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Peter Hujar: Love & Lust

The work of Peter Hujar (1934–1987) is revered by artists, yet still something of a secret to the wider art public. His photographs dealing with sex and eros—pictures that are among his finest and most radical work—may be responsible in part for the sub rosa quality of his reputation. Fraenkel Gallery presents the first exhibition and publication to focus on Hujar’s photographs of love and lust. For Hujar, love and lust were central preoccupations, the primary engines of his creativity. The nearly 30 black-and-white photographs in the exhibition, made between the years 1967 and 1986, include men depicted in the highest pitch of orgasm, as well as perceptive portraits of fellow artists such as Merce Cunningham and John Cage, David Wojnarowicz and Lynn Davis.

Twenty-seven years after his death, certain of the photographs will still make many viewers uneasy. Hujar’s view of the human body was uninhibited and uncompromising, but his most original work broke new ground in capturing eros and eroticism. [Note: the exhibition includes sexually explicit images.]

Peter Hujar: Love & Lust is accompanied by an 82-page, illustrated catalogue ($45). Although individual works have been seen in survey exhibitions, they have never before been published as a whole. The catalogue also features an essay by Vince Aletti and an interview with Fran Lebowitz.

Among the many photographers Hujar influenced is Nan Goldin, who wrote in the 1994 catalogue, Peter Hujar: A Retrospective, “He was a magician, he hypnotized his subjects. He never forced exposure, he seduced people to want to reveal all to him.” She added, “He taught so much to me and everyone who knew him…we went through periods of trying to work in each other’s style. I think it changed both of us.”

The exhibition runs concurrently with Nan Goldin: Nine Self-Portraits.