Peter Hujar, Fran Lebowitz at Home in Morristown, New Jersey, 1974.
Peter Hujar (1934–1987), a prominent figure in the downtown New York art scene in the 1970s and 1980s, is best known for his intimate, searching, and playful portraits of artists, writers, and performers, including Susan Sontag, William S. Burroughs, David Wojnarowicz, and the masters of drag theater. Private by nature, combative in manner, well read, and widely connected, Hujar inhabited the downtown world of avant-garde dance, music, art, and performance. His mature career paralleled the public unfolding of gay life between the Stonewall uprising in 1969 and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.
In his loft studio in the East Village, Hujar focused on those who followed their creative instincts and shunned mainstream success. He made, in his words, “uncomplicated, direct photographs of complicated and difficult subjects,” immortalizing moments, landscapes, individuals, and subcultures passing at the speed of life.
Peter Hujar: Speed of Life presents more than one hundred photographs by this enormously important and influential artist. The pictures, in this first retrospective of the artist’s work, chart Hujar’s career from his beginnings in the mid-1950s to his central role in the East Village art scene three decades later.
(© 1974 Peter Hujar Archive LLC, courtesy of Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.)