Bringing together the sensibilities of two remarkable artists, Peter Hujar curated by Elton John provides striking proof of how one artist’s eye can shed light on another. Though known worldwide as one of the most revered and exhilarating performers of our era, Elton John is also a seasoned collector of photographs, with an acute and highly personal understanding of Peter Hujar’s achievement.
Through a selection of fifty photographs, Peter Hujar curated by Elton John presents a wide-ranging survey of Hujar’s celebrated career. In this new monograph, published to accompany an exhibition at Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco, Elton John writes, “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.” The publication includes works spanning nearly two decades, featuring portraits of Hujar’s eclectic circle of friends, his landmark nudes, atmospheric landscapes, portraits of performers (Stevie Wonder, Peggy Lee, and Edgar Winter), and a moving image of the artist with his mother.
Peter Hujar (1934–1987) was born in Trenton, New Jersey and moved to Manhattan to work in the magazine, advertising, and fashion industries. He documented the vibrant cultural scene in downtown New York throughout the 1970s and 1980s, photographing artists, musicians, writers, and performers. Hujar died of AIDS in 1987, leaving behind a complex and profound body of photographs.
Elton John (born 1947) is one of the most enduringly successful solo artists of all time. In 1992 he founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which funds programs to end the AIDS epidemic. Since the 1990s he has avidly collected photography. In 2016, Tate Modern organized the exhibition “The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection.”