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Artist

Robert Longo (1953-)

Title

Untitled

Date

1981

Medium

Graphite pencil and opaque watercolor on paper

Dimensions

Sheet: 93 1/2 × 58 1/4 in. (237.5 × 148 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Estelle Schwartz in honor of her parents, Dora and Abe Cohen

Accession number

91.55

Object Label

Untitled is part of Robert Longo’s Men In Cities (1978-1983), a series of forty-four large-scale charcoal and graphite drawings depicting men and women, their bodies suspended on white backgrounds. Rendered at extreme angles, the figures are anonymous despite their intensity of emotion, and their dramatic, often contorted poses seem theatrical rather than natural. Indeed, when installed in a sequence of numerous panels, the individual images assume the appearance of film stills, albeit from films whose narratives are impossible to reconstruct or conjoin into a unified whole. Although Longo has frequently appropriated imagery from films, he captured these individuals—his friends and people from his neighborhood—with his own camera, posing on his roof as he pelted them with tennis balls to achieve the effect of surprise and recoil. He then made large-scale sketches based on the photographs with the aid of a projector, employing a graphic style redolent of commercial illustration.