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Exhibition at Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco reflects the broad scope of Peter Hujar's work
Peter Hujar, Lower Manhattan from the Harbor, 1976.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Over the course of 30 years, Peter Hujar (1934–1987) embraced an ambitious range of subject matter—from studio work to street photography to landscapes. To reflect the broad scope of the artist’s work, Fraenkel Gallery announces Peter Hujar: 21 Pictures, being presented January 7 – March 5, 2016.

Hujar is perhaps best known for his intimate portrayals of artists who were among his circle of friends and admirers. Among the works in the exhibition are insightful portraits of Paul Thek (1965), Susan Sontag (1975), John Waters (1975), Diana Vreeland (1975), Divine (1976), and Ethyl Eichelberger (1983), as well as a self-portrait from 1974.

Looking beyond Hujar’s most celebrated works, 21 Pictures also features a number of less familiar photographs, such as gritty scenes of city life in the 1970s and 1980s, dramatic seascapes, poignant still lifes, and penetrating “portraits” of animals, in which he conveys the vulnerability and individuality of his subjects.

Hujar’s work is also notable for its candid exploration of sexuality, death, and life. The exhibition will include openly erotic portraits, as well as a haunting photograph of the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo, Sicily. Throughout his varied work, Hujar’s unmistakable voice comes through, evincing a personal and unidealized approach to the medium.

Peter Hujar (born 1934) died of AIDS in 1987, leaving behind a complex and profound body of photographs. Hujar was a leading figure in the group of artists, musicians, writers, and performers at the forefront of the cultural scene in downtown New York in the 1970s and early 80s, and he was enormously admired for his completely uncompromising attitude towards work and life. He was a consummate technician, and his portraits of people, animals, and landscapes, with their exquisite black-and-white tonalities, were extremely influential. Highly emotional yet stripped of excess, Hujar’s photographs are always beautiful, although rarely in a conventional way. His extraordinary first book, Portraits in Life and Death, with an introduction by Susan Sontag, was published in 1976, but his “difficult” personality and refusal to pander to the marketplace insured that it was his last publication during his lifetime.






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