Robert Longo

Godzilla , 2005

42.9" x 69.4" inches
109.2 x 176.5 cm
Pigment print
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Edition of 30

About the artist

Robert Longo

Robert Longo, born 1953 in Brooklyn, New York, is an American artist, filmmaker, and photographer. He received his BFA in Sculpture from Buffalo State College in 1975.

Despite the fact that he studied sculpture, Longo broke out onto the New York art scene with his iconic “Men in the Cities” series in 1983, huge charcoal drawings of businessmen contorted into writhing, almost dance-like poses that became symbols for the changing nature of New York City in the 1980s with gentrification by those who were money and power hungry. He manipulates charcoal with a sculptural quality, side stepping categorization between strictly painting, sculpture, or photography. He has stated that he believes drawing to be a sculptural process, carving his subjects out of the paper with erasers and charcoal. His large-scale artworks explore the power of photographic and filmic images in popular culture. Longo’s work is a meditation on the images we see over and over again on a daily basis, oftentimes drawing inspiration from sources that deal with socio-political issues. 

Two such works from the “Men in the Cities” series are Eric and Ellen, lithographs completed in 1999. In both of the black and white works of art, the subjects, Eric and Ellen, are turned from the camera, masking their identities into obscurity. In Ellen, the subject’s right foot is daintily pointed forward, her arms flung up as if in defense of something from above and her back arched. In the lithograph of Eric, the subject’s position is more open, as if in the midst of a dance move. While his body is faced towards the camera, his face is flung to the side as he leans backwards, his feet twisted in toward one another. There are no identifying features in the lithographs, other than their dress, to mark them as a business man and woman. There is an ambiguity in the works, as it is unclear if they are dancing or writhing in pain. Eric and Ellen represent the juxtaposition between the “yuppie” culture of the 1980s Longo was witnessing take shape to the energy and spirit of urban New York City.

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Robert Longo

Untitled (Riot Cops), from Charcoal



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