P·P·O·W is pleased to announce If I Could Attach Our Blood Vessels I Would: The Work of David Wojnarowicz and Peter Hujar, the gallery’s presentation at Paris+ par Art Basel 2023. This display will document through photographs, video, painting, and sculpture the inextricable connectedness between the works of Peter Hujar (1934-1987) and David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992). Correcting the often-cited misconception about their relationship as being solely or primarily “lovers,” the presentation will demonstrate their close friendship and profound influence on each other’s artwork throughout the 1980s.
Twenty years his senior and already well-recognized in both the Uptown and Downtown New York art worlds, Hujar galvanized Wojnarowicz’s identification as an artist and specifically encouraged him to paint. Works in our booth will document Hujar’s early influence, seen in Wojnarowicz’s stencils and works within Pier 34, which can eventually be traced to the latter’s most important works about HIV/AIDS from the late-1980s and early 1990s.
Wojnarowicz wrote extensively about Hujar’s death and famously documented him on his hospital deathbed. Wojnarowicz’s last two shows, both presented at P·P·O·W, were complicated by his own HIV+ diagnosis and were simultaneously a critical response to “a sick society,” as well as a memorial to his friend, Hujar, about whom Wojnarowicz famously declared, “Everything I made, I made for Peter.” The title of our Paris+ presentation is excerpted from Wojnarowicz’s text and image work When I Put My Hands on Your Body (1990), which was exhibited that same year in his final exhibition at P·P·O·W, In the Garden.
Our presentation at Paris+ will coincide with the Parisian launch of Dear Jean Pierre at After8 Books on Friday, October 20, 7pm. Published by Primary Information, this catalogue collects Wojnarowicz’s letters from 1979-1982 to his then-lover Jean Pierre Delage, and documents the beginning of Hujar and Wojnarowicz’s fertile collaboration after a chance encounter at the piers in December of 1980.
Peter Hujar (1934 - 1987) was a leading figure in downtown New York’s cultural scene in the 1970s and early ‘80s. His photographs are held in the permanent collections of institutions worldwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Morgan Library and Museum, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Tate Modern, London. Portraits in Life and Death, with an introduction by Susan Sontag, was one of only two major monographs of the artist’s work published during his lifetime. The retrospective Peter Hujar: Speed of Life opened at Fundacion Mapfre, Barcelona, Spain in 2017, before traveling to Fotomuseum, The Hague, Netherlands, 2017; The Morgan Library and Museum, New York, 2018; Berkeley Art Museum & Film Archive, University of California, 2018; and Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2020.
David Wojnarowicz (1954 -1992) has been included in solo and group exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Busan Museum of Modern Art, Korea; The Barbican Art Gallery, London; and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, among many others. His life and work have been the subject of significant studies, including Cynthia Carr’s Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz (2012). Comprehensive retrospectives have been organized at Illinois State University in 1990; the New Museum in 1999; and at the Whitney in 2018, which traveled to the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid in 2019 and the Musee d/Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg City in 2019. In August 2023, Primary Information published Dear Jean Pierre, a monograph focused on Wojnarowicz’s correspondence from 1979-82.