Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present Peter Hujar curated by Elton John, a fifty-photograph survey of Hujar’s celebrated career. Bringing together the sensibilities of two remarkable artists, the exhibition provides striking evidence of how one artist’s eye can shed light on another. Elton John’s selection includes works spanning nearly two decades, featuring portraits of Hujar’s eclectic circle of friends, his landmark nudes, and atmospheric landscapes. A portion of the proceeds from the exhibition will go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and the exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by Fraenkel Gallery.
Known worldwide as one of the most revered and exhilarating performers of our era, Elton John is also a seasoned collector of photographs, and brings an acute and highly personal understanding of Peter Hujar’s achievement to his selection. As he writes in the catalogue, “Hujar’s humanity, depth, and sensual insights aren’t for everyone, and don’t need to be, but once his pictures get into your bloodstream they are impossible to shake.”
Peter Hujar documented the vibrant cultural scene in downtown New York throughout the 1970s and 1980s, photographing artists, musicians, writers, and performers. He died of AIDS in 1987, leaving behind a complex and profound body of photographs. While Hujar’s talent was recognized during his lifetime by a small but influential group of friends and admirers, his work has reached a wider audience in the years since his death. Elton John began collecting photographs in the early 1990s, and writes that “it wasn’t until 2011 that I acquired my first photograph by Peter Hujar. His work was not well known back then, and it took a while before I came across it.”
Among Elton John’s selections are portraits of acclaimed performers including Stevie Wonder, Peggy Lee, and Edgar Winter. Other photographs depict subjects from Hujar’s creative orbit, such as drag performer Ethyl Eichelberger and Warhol superstar Jackie Curtis. Along with the portraits are examples of Hujar’s deeply empathetic pictures of animals, and landscapes including austere views of the ocean and a New Jersey forest at night.