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Robert Longo

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Robert Longo (b. 1953) is an artist, filmmaker, and musician, best known for his photo-realistic drawings and works on paper that examine the role of politics and power in our society. He gained prominence in the 1980s for his Men in the Cities series, which depicts sharply dressed businessmen and women in contorted poses, referencing agony or ecstasy. Considered significant American prints, this series of lithographs, taken from drawings based off photographs, are silhouetted against a stark white background. The Men in the Cities lithographs began in 1982, and are based off Longo’s charcoal drawings of the same name. The imagery was inspired by a scene from Rainer Werner Fasbinder’s “The American Soldier,” where two gangsters look as if they’re “dancing” toward their death. Appropriating the scene, Longo took photographs of his friends dressed in power suits on the rooftop of his studio while throwing tennis balls at them. The resulting movements are lyrical and free-falling in contrast to the clothing indicative of 1980s America and corporate culture. The drawings, which have a cinematic quality, were exhibited at Documenta 7 in 1982 and later at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009 as part of “The Picture Generation” exhibition.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Longo was recognized at a young age for his talent, and received a grant to study at the Accademia di Belle Arte in Florence, Italy, in 1972. He received his BFA from Buffalo State University in 1975, and subsequently moved to New York City to become part of the downtown art and music scene. In 1974, Longo co-founded Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo, NY with a group of young visual artists, including Cindy Sherman.

His work is in numerous prominent museum collections, including the Albertina, Vienna, AT; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Baltimore Museum, MD; British Museum, UK; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, FR; Davis Museum, Wellesley College, MA; Guggenheim Museum, NY; High Museum, Atlanta, GA; Jewish Museum, New York, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Ludwig Museum, Cologne, DE; Menil Collection, Houston, TX; Musee d'Art Contemporain, Montreal, CA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, NL; Tate Gallery, London, UK; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.

Longo has been included in solo and group exhibitions at the Hall Art Foundation, Schloss Derneburg (2019), Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (2019), The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (2018), British Museum (2017), Brooklyn Museum (2017), Sara Hildén Museum Tampere (2017), Broad Museum (2015), The Aldrich Museum (2012), Whitney Biennial (2004 and 1983), Venice Biennale (1997), Isetan Museum of Art in Tokyo (1995), Hamburger Kunstverein and Deichtorhallen (1991), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1989), Documenta (1987 and 1982) and the Menil Collection in Houston (1981).
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