I am moved by the purity and delicacy of [Hujar’s] intentions… these memento mori can exorcise morbidity as effectively as they evoke its sweet poetry and its panic. –Susan Sontag
Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition Peter Hujar from January 3 through March 2, 2002.
Peter Hujar is best known for his powerful and piercing portraits, uncompromising fastidiousness, and devoted friendships. He remained an artist’s artist, revered and respected by painters, performers and photographers (among them, Nan Goldin), until his death from AIDS in 1987. His friends frequently speak of him as the standard to which they held themselves. 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.” Although he did publish one book, Portraits in Life and Death, with an introduction by Susan Sontag, he was not widely recognized until after his death. Goldin adds, “He lived in different worlds, he touched many people, and his work, like so few photographs, can’t be forgotten and becomes even deeper and more compelling over time. Peter’s work is not just photography—it’s about birth and death and the stages of life and varieties of identity and all the friends in between.”
The works on view include several remarkable self-portraits, as well as other portraits of such diverse subjects as William Burroughs, Divine, Diana Vreeland, David Wojnarowicz and Susan Sontag. Also included are several portraits of animals, and haunting images of the catacombs at Palermo.
The exhibition runs concurrently with Nan Goldin: Recent Work.