Published by Safe-T-Gallery Inc.
Don Burmeister: Owner/Editor
Barbara Confino: Associate Editor
Peter Hujar is the subject of two shows in New York - Three Lives: Peter Hujar, at Matthew Marks Gallery (which focuses on Hujar’s portraits of Paul, David, and himself) and Influential Friends at John McWhinnie.
Influential Friends offers the viewer a mix of photographs, ephemera, and portraits of Hujar by Paul Thek, & David Wojnarowicz. Peter Hujar and Paul Thek met in their teens. The correspondence and other ephemera displayed on the ground floor at McWhinnie offer a glimpse into their relationship. The upper floor deals more with the relationship with David Wojnarowicz for whom Hujar was more of a mentor.
Hujar’s photographic studies of bits of Thek’s environmental piece (The Tomb aka The Dead Hippie) appear along with a set of group portraits in which the photographer appears reflected in a mirror (displayed contact sheets give an idea of the flow of these meetings.)
Upstairs, cards and clippings from the 1980’s fill the display. The walls are hung with photos of desolation, scenes of urban decay, of abandoned piers and buildings that echo the devastation that hit the downtown art scene as the AIDS epidemic spread throughout the 80’s and eventually claimed the lives of these three friends.
The darkness of these late images offers a sharp counterpoint to the somewhat lighter portraits on display at Matthew Marks. They may not be as pleasant to look at, but they do offer a more complete picture of Peter Hujar.