Pace/MacGill is honored to announce representation of photographer Peter Hujar in New York. The gallery will present a selection of Hujar’s iconic black and white nudes, portraits and animals in an inaugural exhibition.
Peter Hujar (1934-1987) photographed his subjects with penetrating sensitivity and psychological depth, creating a hallmark style of portraiture that influenced artists such as Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, and Nan Goldin. Unflinching and sometimes dark, he captured intellectuals, luminaries, and members of New York City subculture in moments of disarmed vulnerability. Hujar was unabashed in his embrace of male sexuality, and was unafraid to look at death and dying, whether photographing friends on their deathbeds or in their coffins, or documenting the Palermo catacombs with a feeling akin to tenderness. In her introduction to “Portraits in Life and Death,” Susan Sontag wrote, “…Fleshed and moist-eyed friends and acquaintances stand, sit, slouch, mostly lie – and are made to appear to meditate on their own mortality…Peter Hujar knows that portraits in life are always, also, portraits in death.” A cult figure in 1980s downtown New York, and succumbing himself to a tragically early death by AIDS in 1987, his work has become posthumously celebrated.
The centerpiece of Pace/MacGill’s debut show will be a never before exhibited triptych of Hujar’s daring Bruce de Saint Croix portrait. In depicting this candid narrative, Hujar addressed the male’s rarely discussed relationship to his body, and specifically to the erection. A highly personal dialogue unfurls, one that involves pleasure, fear, submission and power. In his treatment of male sexuality, Hujar portrays the vulnerability of the male interacting with his own virility.
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The exhibition will also feature a mini-survey of his other portraits, in which the tug between disciplined composition and an under-the-skin grasp of subjectivity brings the viewer right into the picture. In his mastery of the structured portrait, Hujar’s work departed drastically from the quickly snapped street shot. Often brought right into the center of the frame, his subjects, whether animal or human, dead or alive, have palpable presence.