Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition Peter Hujar: Night from March 10 through April 30, 2005. This exhibition will include approximately thirty-five photographs the artist made at night in New York City between 1974 and 1985, the majority of which are being seen for the first time.
Hujar was the quintessential New York artist, living and working in the East Village and throughout the downtown area from the age of sixteen. His urban nighttime photographs comprise a significant portion of his life’s work, taking such varied subjects as Wall Street’s corporate architecture, costumed Halloween partygoers, dilapidated domestic interiors, cruisy city parks, barren loading docks, and trash-strewn parking lots. Hujar photographed the World Trade Center when it was still new, the Meatpacking District when it still lived up to its name, and the West Side Highway before the coming of Battery Park City. Sometimes playful, often bleak, these photographs have an underlying sadness that is bound up in the palpable mortality of all Hujar’s subjects, from late-night revelers to the shifting, often decaying urban landscape.
Enormously influential on his fellow artists, musicians, writers, and performers, Hujar was a central figure at the forefront of the cultural scene in downtown New York in the 1970s and early 1980s. His work inspired many of today’s most celebrated photographers very early in their careers: among others, Nan Goldin has said she would never have become a photographer had it not been for Peter Hujar. “He was a magician,” Goldin writes: “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.”
Peter Hujar died of AIDS in 1987. His work has been the subject of major retrospectives at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Fotomuseum in Winterthur, Switzerland. His pictures are included in this winter’s New Museum exhibition East Village USA and in the Wattis Institute’s exhibition Likeness: Portraits of Artists by Other Artists, opening in January at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston.
The exhibition has recently been on view at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York and is accompanied by a hard-cover book reproducing all the photographs in the exhibition and including an essay by the curator Robert Nickas, published by Fraenkel Gallery and Matthew Marks Gallery.
Peter Hujar: Night is presented concurrently with the exhibition Martina Mullaney.