Robert Longo burst onto the New York art scene as a brash 25-year-old with “Men in the Cities,” his iconic 1983 large-scale charcoal drawings of businessmen posing in uncanny contortions.
“I always imagine that I want to make art that is going to kill you,” he said in 1984. “Whether it’s going to do it visually or physically, I’ll take either way.”
Longo works and reworks his charcoal into thick-textured surfaces, giving his velvety drawings deep, blackened expanses and sharply contrasting whites; his forms are at once representational and softly elusive.
Having been fascinated with popular culture as a child, Longo centers his practice on transposing images and the resulting transformation of meaning, linking him with the Pictures Generation.
“An artist should know art history,” he says. “Shock value only lasts so long.” His recent works have included series depicting women in burkas, ocean waves, nuclear explosions, views of Sigmund Freud’s apartment, and zoo animals in cages.
He has gone on to have his work shown at the 1983 and 2004 Whitney Biennial in New York and the 47th Venice Biennale.
Longo currently lives and works in New York, NY.
The artist’s works are held in the collections of the Albertina in Vienna, the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, among others.