Phantom of the Night


Peter Hujar, Woolworth Building, 1976

A special thanks to Paul Pincus who recently posted a photo of Peter Hujar’s work, Leroy Street, 1976, revealing an aspect to this very talented photographer I knew not. While Hujar (1934 – 1987) is famously known for iconic indoor portraits (the sexily intellectual Susan Sontag, 1975; Candy Darling on her Deathbed, 1974), it turns out he was a phantom of the night as well with urban loneliness on his mind and nocturnal cityscapes in the cross hairs of his lens.

For example, in the Woolworth Building above he captures the edifice nosing “self-assuredly into a foggy silver sky” in this breathtaking angle.

In a moving passage by Stephen Koch, we learn more of the man:

“Peter was by then pushing fifty, the strong silent eminence of Deep Downtown. He was a somebody who knew Everybody, and yet he was chronically alone, an artist who’d produced several decades worth of masterful artistic achievement known to Everybody from Arbus to Warhol to Mapplethorpe—but to nobody else. He could make art. He could not manage a career. From the outside, he looked commanding. Inside, he struggled with depression, and woke up many mornings thinking he was maybe getting to the end of his rope.”




~ by eaesthete on 05/22/09.

2 Responses to “Phantom of the Night”

  1. This is exquisite – Gothamesque….

  2. Ah, a new acquaintance with follow through. Thank you Vineca for that most observant comment. And, of course, you’re right — it is so breathtakingly Gothamesque.

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