P·P·O·W announces representation of the Estate of Jimmy DeSana
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P·P·O·W announces representation of the Estate of Jimmy DeSana
Jimmy DeSana, Marker Cones (No head), 1982. Vintage C-print. Image: 14 1/4 x 18 1/2 ins. 36.2 x 47 cm. Framed: 21 3/4 x 26 x 1 1/2 ins. 55.2 x 66 x 3.8 cm.

NEW YORK, NY.- PPOW announced representation of the Estate of Jimmy DeSana. A key figure in the New York downtown scene of the 1970s and 80s, DeSana’s photography evinces a singular style typified by concealed figures, saturated colors, and surreal mise-en-scne, with subject matter that index the artist’s fascination with American suburbia and queer fetish subculture in equal measure.

Supplementing his art practice with commercial portraiture, DeSana shot a wide array of the 80s most prominent cultural icons and underground celebrities, including Laurie Anderson, William S. Burroughs, David Byrne, James Chance, Debbie Harry, Jack Smith, and Yoko Ono, among many others. These trenchant portrayals of New York personalities demonstrate DeSana’s stylistic approach to his sitters, which carries over to the artist’s most famous bodies of work, Submission and Suburban. In both series, figures’ bodies are contorted, occluded, and overlapped, with props of everyday objects taking on an alien quality through DeSana’s lens. Throughout his career, DeSana seamlessly blended the tropes of fashion photography, camp sensibility, and experimental art, resulting in images that are simultaneously relatable in their use of quotidian settings, yet entirely otherworldly in their depiction.

Since its founding, PPOW has maintained a steadfast dedication to promoting and exhibiting artists born from the East Village scene of the 1980s, as well as those lost to the AIDS pandemic, making the inclusion of DeSana and his highly stylized photography a natural fit into the existing program. Gallery co-founder Wendy Olsoff adds, “There is no doubt that the DeSana Estate is a perfect fit for our gallery. We are excited to contextualize his work with the careers of Martin Wong, David Wojnarowicz, and Hunter Reynolds, as well as contemporary artists like Carlos Motta and Kyle Dunn. The gallery mission is to leave legacies for the artists we work with, and we are thrilled to add Jimmy DeSana to our roster and promote his work worldwide.” The executor of the Jimmy DeSana Trust, Laurie Simmons, furthers this point, saying, “After three decades working on my dear friend Jimmy DeSana’s estate, I am thrilled that the archive has found a home at PPOW. Their roster of both contemporary artists and artists closely linked to the AIDS pandemic provide context and a new path to understanding the importance of Jimmy’s work. It feels especially timely in our current climate, and I look forward to sharing his work with a new generation.”

PPOW will include DeSana’s work at Expo Chicago in April, and a solo exhibition in New York of the artist’s work is planned to open in late 2022. The Estate of Jimmy DeSana will continue to be represented by Amanda Wilkinson Gallery in London.

DeSana (1949-1990) grew up in Atlanta, GA, and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, Athens in 1972 before relocating to New York’s East Village in the early 1970s. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include: The Sodomite Invasion: Experimentation, Politics and Sexuality in the work of Jimmy DeSana and Marlon T. Riggs,Griffin Art Projects, Vancouver, Canada (2020); and Remainders, Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY (2016). DeSana’s work is held in numerous prominent public collections, among them: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. A retrospective of DeSana’s work will be presented at the Brooklyn Museum, New York, in Fall 2022, accompanied by a catalogue co-published by the Brooklyn Museum and DelMonico Books.

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