top of page

Peter HUJAR (1934-1987)

Hujar

“When people talk about me,
I want them to be whispering.”

PETER HUJAR

Peter Hujar was one of the most important and influential New York photographers of the 1970s and 1980s, an artist whose reputation has steadily grown since his death in 1987. Born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1934, Peter Hujar received his first camera in 1947.

 

Hujar was a contemporary and friend of Diane Arbus, and both were admirers of Weegee and shared his dark vision. Regardless of subject matter… Hujar is a classicist whose distinctive style echoes further back to historical figures such as Eugène Atget and Brassaï. Hujar was a mentor, friend, and lover to the artist and writer David Wojnarowicz, and his work would go on to influence the photographers Nan Goldin and Robert Mapplethorpe. His sensibility, concentration, eye for detail, and feel for light and texture enable him to find, as both Atget and Brassaï in Paris before him, mystery where none is apparent, beauty in the mundane, and grace in disintegration. All of Hujar's work is imbued with a deep sense of mortality, and, as he makes visible an awareness of life and death as forever enmeshed, a depth of soul. (excerpt from MoMA PS1 Peter Hujar exhibition announcement 2005)

HUJAR_ManOnChair_150(Revised).jpg

Man on chair (Richard Weinroth), 1979

Vintage Gelatin Silver print

14 ¾ x 14 ¾ inches (image size)

20 x 16 inches (paper size)

Signed in ink on verso.

PETER HUJAR

“I photograph those who push themselves to any extreme. That’s what interests me, and people who cling to the freedom to be themselves.”

HUJAR_Leg_150(Revised).jpg

Paul Hudson (Leg), 1979

Vintage Gelatin Silver print

14 ⅞ x 14 ¾ inches (image size)

20 x 16 inches (paper size)

Signed in ink on verso.

Holland Cotter, The New York Times,

He Made Them Glow: A Maverick’s Portraits Live On, February 8, 2018

“… each of Hujar’s photographs is a stand-alone object, masterfully conceived and printed, complete in itself. Yet the work overall is the product of a single complex, difficult sensibility. It shares a pervasive and insistent atmosphere of otherness, and — this comes through only gradually — a spirit of level-eyed fortitude in the face of damage.”

HUJAR_Clown-sTrunk_150(Revised).jpg

Clown’s Trunk, 1973

(Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus)

Vintage Gelatin Silver print

14 ¾ x 14 ¾ inches (image size)

20 x 16 inches (paper size)

Signed in ink on verso.

Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker,

The Bohemian Rhapsody of Peter Hujar, January 29, 2018

“The quality of Hujar’s hand-done prints, tending to sumptuous blacks and simmering grays, transfixes. He was a darkroom master, maintaining technical standards for which he got scant credit except among certain cognoscenti.”

HUJAR_SixAve_150(Revised).jpg

New York: Sixth Avenue (1), 1976

Vintage Gelatin Silver print

14 ¾ x 14 ¾ inches (image size)

20 x 16 inches (paper size)

Signed in ink on verso.

“I do, for example, love the portraiture of Peter Hujar. When you see them, you just see. Photography is so hard because it is so hard to fake it. What you sense in a Hujar portrait, it could not be there if it had not been between these two individuals. What you see in his pictures is a record of a psychology that found a shape on these silver crystals on the film.”

-Wolfgang Tillmans
From ‘Record-Keeping Is Never Neutral’: Wolfgang Tillmans on How Photography Can Be Used as a Potent Political Tool for Change.
Artnet.com

HUJAR_DeliaDoherty_150(Revised).jpg

Delia Doherty (fashion designer), 1970’s

Vintage Gelatin Silver print

14 ¾ x 14 ¾ inches (image size)

20 x 16 inches (paper size)

Signed in ink on verso.

In January 1987, Hujar was diagnosed with AIDS. He died 10 months later at age 53.

Peter Hujar's work is held in the following collections:

  • Art Institute of Chicago

  • Carnegie Museum of Art

  • Fogg Museum, Harvard University

  • J. Paul Getty Museum

  • Morgan Library & Museum

  • Museum of Modern Art

  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

  • Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

  • Tate, UK

  • Walker Art Center

  • Whitney Museum of American Art

  • Yale University Art Gallery

bottom of page