David Wojnarowicz, Martin Wong and their Circles
Art Basel, Miami Beach
December 4-7, 2014
P.P.O.W is pleased to present a selection of rare and historical work by Martin Wong (1946-1999) and David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) and their collaborators. During their brief lifetimes, each artist gravitated towards and worked with an extraordinary spectrum of writers, poets, performers, painters, filmmakers and musicians to create a rich history stretching from the optimistic innocence of the Cockettes of Haight Ashbury (1972-74) to the streets of the Lower Eastside in Manhattan of the 1980’s and early 90’s, a time in New York defined part by the graffiti movement, a vibrant art and club scene, the Nyorican Poet’s Café, the crack epidemic and the AIDS crisis.
For the first time, a comprehensive viewing of films which were made by Wojnarowicz and his contemporaries will be screened throughout the duration of the fair. Classics from the Cinema of Transgression such as “Where Evil Dwells (with Tommy Turner) and “You Killed Me First” (with Richard Kern) will be screened alongside never before seen films by Marion Scemama and Steve Doughton. “Beautiful People” with Jesse Hultberg, a soundless 34 min poignant film of a drag transformation will continually be screened. In Addition, “ITSOFOMO” a film with Ben Neill, recently shown at the Hammer Museum in LA, will be on view. Other works will explore Wojnarowicz’s collaborations with artists such as Kiki Smith, Nan Goldin, Peter Hujar, Mike Bidlo, Andreas Sterzing and James Romberger.
Drawings, objects, poems, paintings and photographs will document Martin Wong’s early relationship with the Cockettes and Angels of Light. This early work can be seen influencing Wong’s later associations and works, such as the painting “Esmerelda” and his famous depictions and friendship with the Latino poet and playwright Miguel Piñero. Portraits of Piñero will be on view alongside Martin’s collaborations with graffiti artists including paintings with Sharp and LA II.
David Wojnarowicz was born in 1954 in Red Bank, New Jersey. From 1970 until 1973, he lived on the streets of New York City as a street hustler. In the 1990s he fought and successfully issued an injunction against Donald Wildmon and the American Family Association for their distortion of his work in violation of the New York Artists' Authorship Rights Act. Wojnarowicz died of AIDS-related complications on July 22, 1992 at the age of 37. His works are in permanent collections of major museums internationally and are the subject of significant scholarly studies. Wojnarowicz has been the subject of two retrospectives, at the galleries of the Illinois State University in 1990 curated by Barry Blinderman and at the New Museum in 1999 curated by Dan Cameron. The Whitney Museum of American Art will present a retrospective of Wojnarowicz’s work in the spring of 2016. Recently historian Cynthia Carr released an acclaimed biography on Wojnarowicz entitled Fire in the Belly.
Martin Wong was born in 1946 in Portland, Oregon and raised in the Chinatown district of San Francisco, California. He studied ceramics at Humboldt State University, graduating in 1968. During the ‘70s he was active in the San Francisco Bay Area art scene, and was involved with the performance art groups The Cockettes and Angels of Light. In 1978 he moved to Manhattan, eventually settling in the Lower East Side, where his attention turned exclusively to painting. Wong died in San Francisco from an AIDS related illness in 1999. The Martin Wong Foundation has been created in his memory. Wong’s works can be found in museum collections including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Bronx Museum, the de Young Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The Cleveland Museum of Art. He had a one person show Sweet Oblivion at the New Museum in 1998. In early 2014 an exhibition titled City as Canvas: New York City Graffiti: The Martin Wong Collection, opened at the Museum of the City of New York. A one person traveling exhibition of his work accompanied by the release of a major publication is scheduled to take place at the Bronx Museum, New York, in 2015.