Robert Longo

Updated: Jan 19

♣️ Motions in Monochrome - The Art of Black & White ♣️


I need to thank my colleagues for putting me onto this artist – Robert Longo.


I’m ashamed to say I had never heard of him but then again – it is IMPOSSIBLE to know every artist that ever lived and that is why art history is forever a journey of learning and discovery.


SO – ROBERT LONGO is an American artist, film maker, and musician and first became known for his series ‘Men in the Cities’ drawings and prints which show sharply dressed men and women writhing in contorted emotion.


Pictured above is three works from that such series which the artist released in 1980. The work, although at first appears to be a photograph is actually charcoal and pencil. Each work in the series is called Untitled (Eric). This series also depicts women in formal clothing in different states of emotion – one of whom is called Jo – so OF COURSE that instantly became my favourite! ;)



It is no surprise that this series made the artist’s name!!


For the series Longo photographed his friends lurching backward, collapsing forward or sprawled on invisible pavement. After enlarging the pictures through a projector, he and an artist assistant drew them in sizes ranging from three-quarter scale to larger than life-size. In the process, Longo often dramatised poses and always standardised attire into quite formal, black-and-white clothing.


Longo produced about 60 Men in the Cities between 1979 and 1982.


One drawing from this series was used as the album cover to Glenn Branca's album The Ascension.


As a consequence, in his 30s, Longo was among the most widely publicised, exhibited and collected artists of the 1980s along with the likes of Cindy Sherman, whom the artist lived with before the launch of his ‘Men in the Cities’ series.


For more from the artist check out his website – www.robertlongo.com


As well as painting, Longo has a successful career as a film maker and musician.


Jo McLaughlin Dec 2020

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