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ROBERT LONGO | ’Seeing the Elephant’
February 7th 2020
American artist Robert Longo rose to prominence in the early eighties in New York City as part of the ‘Pictures Generation’; a new generation influenced by advertisements, newspapers, film and other mass-media - and determined to replace the prevailing artists of the time. Longo’s large-scale drawings, ‘Men in the Cities’ (1981), hit the materialistic zeitgeist of the decade, showing young and sharply dressed city-workers in energetic and exaggerated poses. For more than forty years the artist has explored multiple themes through his sculptural work and hyper-realistic photographic drawings.
by Henrik Riis
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
The sixties and seventies artistic landscape in New York was dominated by Pop art artists like Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, and Minimalists such as Sol LeWitt and Donald Judd. From the mid-1970s a new group of artists entered the roaring New York art scene. After graduating in 1975, Robert Longo moved to the city with his girlfriend Cindy Sherman and settled in a loft space in South Street, at that time a questionable neighbourhood. Longo and his likes were rebellious and had a desire to take over from the established artists. Allegedly so much so, that one evening at one of their notorious loft-parties, a guest rushed excitedly to Longo from the other side of the room and shouted “Warhol is at the party!” to which he replied “He wasn’t invited!” . Longo never met Warhol and in an interview in 2014 he said he never had a strong desire to meet him. On the other hand, Longo immensely respects Warhol’s iconic and extraordinary work.

Circling the bustling underground art scene and restless to show his sculptures and work on paper, Longo became represented by Metro Pictures in 1982; then a two-year old innovative gallery in Mercer Street in lower Manhattan. Unusual for a gallery at the time, Metro Pictures took on this new breed of artists, some often young and recent graduates: Richard Prince, early-on controversial for the direct and relentless “borrowing” of other artist’s imagery in his work - and for his pulp-novel ‘Nurse’ paintings; Cindy Sherman, with her staged self-portraits inspired by B-movie heroines; and Robert Longo.
ROBERT LONGO
Seeing the Elephant (Engagement), 2001

Edition of 200
6 Artist Proof (APs)

76(w) x 38(h) cm
29.92(w) x 14.96(h) inches
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ROBERT LONGO
Seeing the Elephant (Engagement), 2001

Edition of 200
6 Artist Proof (APs)

76(w) x 38(h) cm
29.92(w) x 14.96(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
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Robert Longo (American, b. 1953)
76(w) x 38(h) cm
29.92(w) x 14.96(h) inches
Polymer coated pigment-based archival ink on Crane cotton paper

Numbered and signed by Robert Longo and John Lamka on front.

Only 20 printed of the edition of 200.
Edition of 200
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
$ 1,300.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Born in 1953 in Brooklyn, New York, Robert Longo grew up in post-war America submerged in movies, television, magazines and newspapers. He studied sculpture in Florence in Italy, before enrolling at Buffalo State College, New York. Here, he studied under art professor Joseph Piccillo, whose artistic practice would influence Longo for years to come. Piccillo was a fine art artist himself, working with sculptural images on paper and later known for drawings of muscular horses in motion, almost jumping out of the paper. His professor might have inspired Longo for what would become his most famous body of work to date, ‘Men in the Cities’.

For ‘Men in the Cities’, Longo looked to his friends, such as Cindy (Sherman), Rick (Richard Prince) and a few others for inspiration. Each of them he would dress up as the new early twenties super-ambitious crowd in New York City; the young urban professionals - or as they would become known: ‘yuppies’. Men dressed in sharp dark suits, white crisp shirts and striped ties, and the women dressed in a secretary-style pencil skirts and white blouses - or simply the little black dress. Longo photographed them individually in exaggerated poses, such as in a crazy dance move, an intense jump or a fall-over backwards. From the photographs he would blow-up the images to a large size and draw the poses onto paper using charcoal, sometimes in the process amplifying the poses even further. ‘Men in the Cities’ was first exhibited in 1981 at a group show at Metro Pictures. During his career the artist has revisited the series regularly in different styles and paper; in 2005 as monochrome and in 2014 in colour.

From early on in his practice Longo has pursued themes covering a multitude of themes from the natural world to more complex themes of human psyche and interaction, such as confrontation, politics and power. The artist’s interest in politics led him to produce sculptural blackened American flags for a solo show in 1990; and it was the fascination of conflict in a historical perspective that resulted in a series of photographic drawings titled ‘Seeing the Elephant’ in the late nineties.
ROBERT LONGO
Seeing the Elephant (First Day - Bufords Cavalry), 2001

Edition of 200
6 Artist Proof (APs)

76(w) x 61(h) cm
29.92(w) x 24.02(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
Your Offer *
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
ROBERT LONGO
Seeing the Elephant (First Day - Bufords Cavalry), 2001

Edition of 200
6 Artist Proof (APs)

76(w) x 61(h) cm
29.92(w) x 24.02(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
Robert Longo (American, b. 1953)
76(w) x 61(h) cm
29.92(w) x 24.02(h) inches
Polymer coated pigment-based archival ink on Crane cotton paper

Numbered and signed by Robert Longo and John Lamka on front.

Only 20 printed of the edition of 200.
Edition of 200
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
$ 1,680.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
The phrase, ‘Seeing the Elephant’, surfaced during the 19th century to describe the overwhelming emotion experienced by soldiers and settlers in the new West; from the excitement of the journey at first and a new life ahead, only to find disappointment and a harsh reality. For this project, photographer John Lamka captured images during re-enactments of the American Civil War of 1861-1865 from which Longo created the drawings. The result is a series of powerful and thought-provoking works that depict a historic event that shaped America’s future. The works portray imagined scenes in shaded monochrome tones, as the artist attempts to capture the emotions before, during and after the scenes of battle. A unique piece from the series, simply titled ‘Seeing the Elephant’ (1999) was gifted by Longo to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2013 (the work be seen here).

For more than four decades Longo has produced multiple series of works on paper in his signature monochrome large-scale. Isolated from a real-world setting, iconic imagery such as an open-jawed shark, an eye-fixated tiger, a big rolling wave or Saturn with its circular icy rings are emerging from a black backdrop. The monumental photo-realistic drawings are haunting and powerful, making the viewer questioning if they are truly real or not.
ROBERT LONGO
Seeing the Elephant (Third day - The Center), 2001

Edition of 200
6 Artist Proof (APs)

76(w) x 33(h) cm
30.12(w) x 13.19(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
Your Offer *
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
ROBERT LONGO
Seeing the Elephant (Third day - The Center), 2001

Edition of 200
6 Artist Proof (APs)

76(w) x 33(h) cm
30.12(w) x 13.19(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
Robert Longo (American, b. 1953)
76(w) x 33(h) cm
30.12(w) x 13.19(h) inches
Polymer coated pigment-based archival ink on Crane cotton paper

Numbered and signed by Robert Longo and John Lamka on front.

Only 20 printed of the edition of 200.
Edition of 200
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
$ 1,300.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
While his use of everyday and symbolic images could lead to labelling it as Pop art, Longo is different. His practice of photographic drawings is slow, manual and labour-intensive. This process is important to the artist as it allows him to digest the image and have an impact on the final work. Longo often refers to his drawings as sculptural work; carved out of the paper with charcoal and graphite. Throughout his artistic practice sculpture has been close to Longo’s heart.

Robert Longo’s work has been exhibited extensively during his career and along with several retrospective exhibitions. His work was included in the Whitney Biennial in 1983 and 2004, and at the 47th Venice Biennale in 1997. In 2009 Longo’s work ‘Men in the Cities’ was part of the exhibition ‘The Pictures Generation, 1974 - 1984’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; a collection of more than 100 works created by a generation of artists who turned the tide from the prevailing genres of Minimalism and Conceptualism to a new movement known for their critical analysis of media culture.

The artist’s works are found in several permanent museum collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago; MoMA, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Tate Gallery, London and Pompidou, Paris.

Eyestorm released three exclusive print editions in collaboration with Robert Longo and John Lamka in 2001. Titled Seeing the Elephant (First Day - Bufords Cavalry), Seeing the Elephant (Third day - The Center) and Seeing the Elephant (Engagement), the pigment prints, each in editions of 200, are numbered and signed by Longo and Lamka on the front.

You can find more details about the print editions on Robert Longo’s artist page here.
 
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