Robert Longo

Study of College Shooter, June 7, 2013 – Santa Monica/Surveillance Video, 2017

Ink and charcoal on vellum

44.5 x 86.4 cm

Over $ 10,000


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Artwork
Description

Robert Longo, born in 1953 in Brooklyn, grew up into adulthood witnessing the overpowering influence of mass media on society. As he joined the underground artistic scene of New York, he appropriated mass media imagery to create his own art – condemning the violence society was subject to with his signature, highly contrasted, black and white drawings.

Longo’s methodical technique conveys power through its precision; his subjects, depicted on a large scale, present a deep attention to detail – becoming almost photographic. Study of College Shooter, however, is one of the rare exceptions.

On June 7, 2013, a security camera recorded a young adult entering the premises of Santa Monica College, holding an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle; moments later, a mass shooting took place.

The image circulated on every news outlet, inspiring Longo to use it for one of his drawings. The silhouette of the killer blends into the darkness of the room – his body is reduced to a blurred, black shape, as the only truly detailed subject in the drawing is the outline of the rifle.

Although the CCTV source image is very low quality, Longo’s didn’t refine its clarity and kept it slightly blurred – maintaining the connection to the security camera. By separating the image from the news media already oversaturated with violence, Longo isolates the tragic episode in order for the viewer to truly acknowledge it and to imagine, with dread, the aftermath.

About
the artist

Born in Brooklyn in 1953, Robert Longo witnessed at full force the post-war influence of mass media on society; his fascination with popular culture blossomed during his childhood, and, eventually, became a core element of his art. His practice was immediately noticed, and, after obtaining a grant in 1972 to study at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, he returned to the United States and received a BFA at the Buffalo State University College in 1975.

He moved back to New York City later in the same decade, joining the underground artistic scene and was subsequently linked to the artistic group Picture Generation – which appropriated images from mass media to create their own art. Despite his growth to adulthood while Pop Art was dominating the artistic scene, Robert Longo developed a completely different practice: his heavily contrasted, black and white, photo realistic drawings go against the Pop Art rhetoric of the glorification of the consumerist goods, as he rather seems to condemn the overpowering effect of capitalist society on its subjects.

His technique involves the use of charcoal and graphite as malleable materials, as he works them into thick, porous paper to create visually impactful drawings. The richness of the black is also given by the use of ink and by the astounding contrast against sharp whites that he often carves out with an eraser – as he once said, “I always think that drawing is a sculptural process […] I always feel like I’m carving the image out rather than painting the image”.

Longo’s œvre is evidence of his consistent examination of the notions of power and authority in society – the series Men In The City (1980s) features life-sized drawings of men and women sharply dressed, contorted in uncanny poses as they are moved by an overwhelming, inner force. Longo, also, has often widened his perspective to explore beyond the hierarchies of society to focus on the forces of nature, as in the series Monsters, Kings, and Perfect Gods – developed between 2000 and 2016.

Robert Longo has been consistently producing art for over thirty years and was awarded with the Goslarer Kaiserring in 2005. He exhibited at institutions such as The Brooklyn Museum – Brooklyn (2017), Albertina Museum – Vienna, Berardo Museum – Lisbon, Whitney Museum – Manhattan, Reina Sofia – Madrid, the Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York and at the Venice Biennale.


Despite his growth to adulthood while Pop Art was dominating the artistic scene, Robert Longo developed a completely different practice: his heavily contrasted, black and white, photo realistic drawings go against the Pop Art rhetoric of the glorification of the consumerist goods.


Robert Longo
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

March 15th, 2018 until
April 24th, 2018
Curated by ARTUNER