Robert LongoMen in the Cities

January 10 – 31, 1981

Exhibition Images

installation image 0 installation image 1

519 West 24th Street
New York NY 10011
Telephone 212 206 7100
Fax 212 337 0070

Robert Longo combines large-scale drawings and wall reliefs in this exhibition of his most recent work. Drawings starkly rendered in charcoal and graphite and sculptures of lacquered cast aluminum continue Longo's portrayal of the arrested action of the "customized" urban figure. The highly animated men and women in Longo's new drawings have grown to larger-than-life size. These monumental figures are juxtaposed with reliefs of city buildings to constitute what critic Jeanne Siegel has called "a processional: a wall of heroes in a new kind of cityscape." The contemporary attire and extreme, though ambiguous, posture and gesture of Longo's subjects reflect attitudes and style dictated by popular culture — movies, advertising, TV, music. By rendering these figures in the most traditional of drawing and sculptural styles, Longo elevates them to the status of contemporary icons.

"The stark drawings have the punch and momentum of stop action news photos... [with] no explicit caption to anchor who, when or where... Longo succeeds in visually convincing and then verbally confirming that the stakes go beyond any one explanation."
— Joan Simon, Art in America

"Robert Longo's work... treats the aestheticization of violence in contemporary society... Longo's images... might, in fact, serve as emblems of that blind confrontation of antithetical meanings which characterize the allegory of unreadability... it is precisely this ambivalence that allows violence to be transformed into an aesthetic spectacle in photographs and films, and on television."
— Craig Owens, October Magazine

"If Longo's images parody pomp, they are at the same time heroic [and] trapped in poses that express dualities — beauty and pain, perfection and seediness, relaxation and tension, grace and awkwardness... his ability to synthesize movement and stasis (often precarious) is one of the great strengths of his art."
— Jeanne Siegel, Arts Magazine

"Longo seeks out the edges that serve as boundaries between mediums, meanings and emotions... [He] raises meaning to the scale of news, commercial movies, fashion photos and... static moments of history."
— Carter Ratcliff, Illustration & Allegory, exhibition catalogue, Brooke Alexander Gallery

Robert Longo has had one-person exhibitions at Hallwalls, Buffalo; The Kitchen, New York; and Studio Cannaviello, Milan. He recently completed a European performance tour at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Amerika Haus, West Berlin; American Center, Paris; and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. His work has been included in group shows at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College; Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; and in New York at Artists Space, The New Museum, Max Protetch Gallery, Hal Bromm Gallery, Brooke Alexander Gallery and Annina Nosei Gallery.

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