Saturday, May 26, 2012

Art and Sex on the Piers

Shelley Seccombe, Two Men on a Bridge, Pier 45, 1978
In the 1970s and early 1980s, the enormous, abandoned piers along the Hudson River at the edge of Greenwich Village were appropriated by gay men. Lots of them. They came to meet, sunbathe, cruise, have sex, and make art. Sounds like gay heaven right?

In Gordon Matta- Clark’s words, the piers were a site of “interest, fascination and value.” But with the sexual adventure came risk. Many of the men who played there were soon to succumb to AIDS. The piers have long-since been demolished.

Artists like Vito Acconci, Gordon Matta-Clark, Peter Hujar and David Wojnarowicz found inspiration in these ruins along the river. The fascinating show at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art includes over 70 works of art that capture this brief but significant moment in gay history.

Leonard Fink, Tava Mural Pier 46, 1980, silver gelatin print
For me, the show's standouts include the small black and white photos by Leonard Fink. They combine a psychological intensity, aesthetic drama and sexual tension that made the piers so attractive and inspiring to so many gay artists.

Kudos to curators Jonathan Weinberg and Darren Jones for putting this together and we look forward to your upcoming book!

If you're in NYC it is well worth the trip to Soho to check it out.
Exhibition ends Friday July 6th 2012. Visit for more info.

Leonard Fink, Pier 48 Interior, 1980, silver gelatin print courtesy of the LGBT Community Center National History Archive

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