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Peter Hujar

David Wojnarowicz
1981

Not on view

Date
1981

Classification
Photographs

Medium
Gelatin silver print

Dimensions
Sheet: 19 13/16 × 15 7/8in. (50.3 × 40.3 cm) Image: 14 3/4 × 14 13/16in. (37.5 × 37.6 cm) Frame: 23 7/8 × 22 7/8in. (60.6 × 58.1 cm)

Accession number
93.76

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Photography Committee

Rights and reproductions
© The Peter Hujar Archive

Peter Hujar had been chronicling New York’s downtown subculture—often in intimate black-and-white photographic portraits—for almost a decade when he met artist David Wojnarowicz, twenty years his junior and at the beginning of his own career. Their intense, enduring relationship was an affinity of opposites: Wojnarowicz’s fiery, politically charged art belonged to a world far different from Hujar’s slyly seductive, classically composed photographs. But portraiture is a collaborative venture, and this image fuses their disparate sensibilities. In Hujar’s lens, Wojnarowicz’s steady gaze—accentuated by the dramatic shadows on his face and shoulder—is reminiscent of homoerotic youths who appear, lips parted and hair tousled, in Caravaggio’s late sixteenth-century paintings. Wojnarowicz’s expression, at once willful and submissive, suggests the melancholic complexity of a friendship that lasted until Hujar died of an AIDS-related illness in 1987. Wojnarowicz, who tested HIV-positive soon after, died in 1992.




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