Robert Longo (1953, in Brooklyn, New York). His earliest childhood was marked by his fascination with mass media, from television and movies to magazines and comic books, that continued to influence his art throughout his career. Never finished the college at the University of North Texas, he later decided to study sculpture under Leonida Finke, who motivated him to follow his artistic strivings. Receiving a grant at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence in 1972, he spent some time in Italy and upon his return, Longo received a BFA at Buffalo State College. Along with his friends, he established an avant-garde art gallery in the building of an old ice factory, that became Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center. Thanks to this space, he got an opportunity to meet many local and New York artists and decided to move to Manhattan and be a part of the underground art scene of the 70’s. Although he studied sculpture, Longo has always preferred drawing as his favorite form of creative expression. Still, his sculptural training left a trace, giving the very important third dimension to all of his artworks.
Robert Longo made a breakthrough at the very beginning of his career (when he was only twenty-five years old) with his series Men in the Cities, his iconic 1983 large-scale charcoal drawings of businessmen posing in uncanny contortions. 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.
Starting to work on it in 1979, these pieces were exhibited two years later at Metro Pictures Gallery in New York and marked the next 35 years of his professional life remaining fresh and current in every period of time.
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