Robert Longo was born in Brooklyn in 1953 and grew up in Long Island, New York. He graduated from high school in 1970, the same year as the massacre at Kent State University in Ohio, which began as a student protest against the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and led to nationwide riots that prompted Longo to become involved in political organizing. One press photo in particular became a symbol of the social unrest and won a Pulitzer Prize. The dead student depicted in the photo was a former classmate of Longo’s, which forever influenced his relationship with media images.
In 1972, Longo received a scholarship to study conservation and art history in Florence, where he soon discovered that he wanted to make art, not conserve it. While in Europe, he designed his own “Grand Tour” of major museums, closely studying both old and modern masters to understand his relationship to art history, an endeavor that remains important to the artist today. In the fall of 1973, he enrolled as an art student at State University College at Buffalo, graduating in 1975. During this time he worked with experimental filmmakers Paul Sharits and Hollis Frampton, who introduced him to structural filmmaking and the films of Sergei Eisenstein. During his time in Buffalo, he also co-founded the exhibition space Hallwalls (1974-present) with Charles Clough, where he organized exhibitions and conversations with artists such as Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Lynda Benglis, Robert Irwin, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, and Richard Serra, building an informal network that proved seminal to his development. It was at this time that his lifelong friendship with Cindy Sherman began.
In 1977, Longo moved to New York with Sherman and began working as a studio assistant to Vito Acconci and Dennis Oppenheim. That year he also participated in a five-person exhibition titled Pictures – curated by Douglas Crimp at the Artist’s Space in New York. It was the first exhibition to contextualize a young group of artists who were turning away from minimalism and conceptualism and toward image-making inspired by newspapers, advertising, film and television. Over the next decade, Longo became known as one of the leading protagonists of the “generation of images.” He worked in drawing, photography, painting, sculpture, performance, and film to offer provocative critiques of the numbing and seductive effects of capitalism, mediatized wars, and the cult of history in the United States.
He presented the Men in the Cities drawings that would establish his name in his first solo exhibition at Metro in 1981. The gallery then presented his Combined Wall Works – part sculpture, part relief, part painting – for the first time in 1984.
Longo lives and works in New York. He is represented by Metro Pictures, New York and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac; London, Paris, Salzburg.
Palm Springs Art Museum, CA, USA
Pace Gallery, New York, USA
© 2021 - Galerie Frank Fluegel
Obere Wörthstrasse 12 / 90403 Nürnberg / Germany / +49 911 23737500
Josef-Pirchl-Straße 6 / 6370 Kitzbühel / Austria
© 2021 - Galerie Frank Fluegel
Obere Wörthstrasse 12
+49 911 23737500