Robert Longo's American Bridge Project Launches Friday
The Hunter College Art Galleries and Department of Art & Art History are pleased to present a site-specific, monumental, political work by the legendary conceptual artist Robert Longo that will comprise his largest public artwork to date. The work will be installed on Hunter's iconic sky bridges across Lexington Avenue at 68th street, and feature a reproduction on vinyl of two of Longo's recent charcoal on mounted paper drawings. American Bridge Project will coat the windows of Hunter's third and seventh floor sky bridges, resulting in an immersive experience for viewers passing through, but also a powerful billboard-sized image visible from Lexington Avenue, both north and south of 68th Street.
The 3rd floor sky bridge is based on Longo's 2017 charcoal on paper drawing, Untitled (First Amendment, September 25, 1789), a labor-intensive portrayal of the handwritten First Amendment. The First Amendment, which affords us the right to protest, the right to freedom of religion, and the right to freedom of speech, is once again at the center of a number of American debates. The enlarged handwritten text of the First Amendment reinstates humanity into the law, a reminder that a human hand wrote it.
Longo's seventh floor sky bridge installation presents a cropped image of a charcoal on paper American flag drawing, Untitled (Berlin Flag) (2012), created by the artist in a dark, seductive chiaroscuro. Yet the image evokes something rather ominous. Longo's interpretation of the symbol implores the audience to reconsider the truth behind this image.
As Longo explains, "Drawing has a unique intimacy of notation, which I have amplified to an Epic scale [...] I hope to slow down images through the medium of drawing, to urge the viewer to consume the full power of each image. I am presenting images we see in media, images the viewer could easily scroll through on a phone. Rather, I am asking for the viewer to spend time, to really look."
Critiques of capitalism, mass culture, and race relations are common themes in Longo's works, but the Hunter project marks a departure from his usual subtlety. In a time when the values enshrined in the Constitution are under attack, and some would question the patriotism of those in power, the act of literally enlarging such American artifacts takes on new meaning. "I don't usually like to be so explicit," Longo said, "but the First Amendment is very important to me. There's a reason I'm drawing it, and the American flag, at this moment."
"Hunter College is one of New York's most ethnically and economically diverse schools, and positioned at the gateway to the Upper East Side," guest curator Jill Brienza said in a statement. "Since the beginning of my career I've striven to organize shows that spur conversation, and I think in today's political climate, Robert's works will certainly do that."
Robert Longo, American Bridge Project is made possible by Artnet, Arthur and Carol Kaufman Goldberg, Metro Pictures, and Barbara Nessim.
About the Artist
Robert Longo (American, b. 1953) is a New York-based artist, filmmaker, and musician. Longo moved to New York in 1977. The same year, Longo participated in a five-person show entitled Pictures-curated by Douglas Crimp at Artists Space in New York- the first exhibition to contextualize a young group of artists who were turning away from Minimalism and Conceptualism and instead towards image-making, inspired by newspapers, advertisements, film, and television. Over the next decade Longo became known as a leading protagonist of the "Pictures Generation," working across drawing, photography, painting, sculpture, performance, and film to make provocative critiques of the anaesthetizing and seductive effects of capitalism, mediatized wars, and the cult of history in the US. Longo has been represented by Metro Pictures-the first New York commercial gallery to establish a market for the Pictures Generation artists-since they opened in 1980. He presented the Men in the Cities drawings that were to establish his name at his first solo show at Metro, in 1981.
Since the 1990s, Longo has been pushing the limits of the charcoal medium, producing monumental, hyper-real charcoal on paper drawings on a scale that competes with that of sculpture.
In 2005, Longo was the recipient of the Goslar Kaiserring, and in 2010 he was inducted as Officier de L'ordre des Art et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture.
Alongside Chief Curator of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Kate Fowle, Longo co-curated "PROOF: Francisco Goya, Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Longo," which opened at the Garage Museum in Moscow last year. The exhibition is currently on view at The Brooklyn Museum until January 7, 2018. Additionally, Longo has two solo exhibitions on view, "Let the Frame of Things Disjoint" at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in London and an eponymous exhibition at The Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere, Finland.