new-york

Peter Hujar

Matthew Marks Gallery

Peter Hujar (1934–1987) is a hard photographer to pin down—to brand, so to speak—which might be one reason why his reputation is still percolating from “insider’s insider” status toward the mainstream. He has been compared aptly to Berenice Abbott and Eugène Atget, to Weegee and Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin. He was a storyteller; he was a formalist; he was a portraitist of artists, performers, and intellectuals; he was a chronicler of life on the margins. His work exudes insouciant verve, serene detachment, gothic creepiness. If he was consistently animated by any single impulse, it seems to have been an attraction to contradiction, as evidenced by the title of the only book he published during his lifetime: Portraits in Life and Death, 1976, which juxtaposed pictures of his friends with photos of corpses in the catacombs of Palermo.

Recently shown at Matthew Marks Gallery,

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