Peter Hujar: A Retrospective

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9781881616351: Peter Hujar: A Retrospective
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Peter Hujar, a New Yorker of Ukrainian descent, died of AIDS in 1987. He recorded the world in astonishing portraits of cows, sheep, and geese in the country, dogs in the studio, the sea, the city, and above all his fellow human beings, many of whom have since won fame: Susan Sontag, John Waters, Divine, William S. Borroughs, Candy Darling, Robert Wilson, David Wojnarowicz, Paul Thek, and many men, in the nude, half-dressed, sleeping, posing, tumescent. People, animals, landscapes - Peter Hujar approached them all with great respect and a perfect sense of balance between near and far. His subjects face us with supremely dignified singularity, with loneliness at times, and at times in an aura of dauntless and "splendid isolation."

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This is the first monograph chronicling the development of this little-known but innovative artist, who began his career as a fashion photographer in the 1950s and 1960s at the urging of Richard Avedon. Along with Avedon, Irving Penn, and Diane Arbus, Hujar was crucial to the "crossover" of fashion photography's vocabulary into the world of fine art. Hujar, however, objected to fashion's emphasis on environment and action rather than subject. His deadpan portraits and nudes instead focus on the subject's act of posing. Although he maintained certain aspects of the artificially created photographic environment, Hujar eschewed portraits that "look like art," and his need to break with the tradition of pretty pictures is apparent. While the bodies of the sitters are often only slightly more animated than the chairs, their faces belie an awareness of the camera; the viewer gets the strong sense that this is just a moment for the sitter rather than the moment. Interestingly, just when sitter, photographer, and viewer have all abandoned the idea that any one photo can capture the subject's essence, the essence is frequently revealed. The subjects are trapped in the act of "succumbing" to the moment, and this tension itself becomes the subject of the image. Able to convey the complexities of the photographer, this rare book belongs in most collections on American photography.
Douglas McClemont, New York
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780934349079: Peter Hujar

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ISBN 10:  093434907X ISBN 13:  9780934349079
Publisher: Grey Art Gallery & Study Cen..., 1990
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