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“My work exists somewhere between movies and monuments” – Robert Longo
Robert Longo is an American painter and sculptor who rose to fame in the 1980s with his ‘Men in the Cities’ series, large, often over-sized charcoal and graphite drawings of sharply-dressed men and women in dramatic, contorted poses. The series has become a visual metaphor for the success and money-driven yuppie culture of the 1980s.
Born in 1953 in Brooklyn, Longo grew up in Long Island, New York. In 1972 he spent a period in Florence studying restoration and art history, but soon realised that he preferred to create art rather than restore it. Whilst in Europe he studied both Old and Modern Masters and the relationship between the two, a fascination which remains with him to this day.
Upon his return to the United States Longo enrolled at the State University College, Buffalo where, under the experimenental filmmakers Paul Sharits and Hollis Frampton, he was introduced him to the structure of filmmaking. During this period he co-founded the Hallwalls exhibition space with Charles Clough, through which he established a network of artists who strongly influenced his development as a multi-disciplinary artist.
Longo later moved to New York to join the underground art movement of the 1970s, and over the course of the 1980s developed his drawing, photography, painting, sculpture, performance and film, becoming a leading protagonist of the ‘Pictures Generation’ a group of young American artists known for their critical analysis of media culture.
Robert Longo’s work is a provocative critique on capitalism, war and world events with its themes of power, protest, destruction and aggression, such as his series of blackened American flags ‘Black Flags’ (1989-1991); oversized hand guns ‘Body Hammers’ (1993-1995); ‘The Freud Cycle’ (2002) ‘The Sickness of Reason’ (2004) ‘The Destroyer Circle’ (2017).
His work has been exhibited throughout the world and has become increasingly sought-after in recent years resulting in a sharp rise in auction prices. In 2013 a three-part work from ‘Men in the Cities’ sold at Sotheby’s New York for US$674,000, which a charcoal drawing sold for US$1,575,000 at Christie’s New York. Most reently, his sculpture ‘Death Star II’, created using tens of thousands of bullets, sold at Art Basel 2018 for US$1.5 million.
Robert Longo lives and works on the East Coast of the United States.
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