Born 1953 in New York
Lives and works in New York
Robert Longo first made a name for himself in the New York art scene in the 1980s with his iconic Men in Cities series — charcoal drawings depicting his smartly-dressed friends in exaggeratedly contorted poses, seemingly mid-fall. Since then Longo has gained international recognition for his work in not only drawing but also sculpture, video and performance.
The detailed drawings for which he is best known are enlarged to a monumental size usually reserved for painting, causing them to appear photorealistic from afar and abstract and conceptual up close. These larger than life hyper-realistic drawings are produced using charcoal and graphite clay, which gives them distinctive chiseled lines that seem to give the drawings a three-dimensional quality. Longo’s adept use of chiaroscuro (the extreme use of light and dark shading) lends his work a heightened emotionality, in intimate, monochromatic detail. Longo’s motifs include political and social issues, with series that deal with power and mass media. On the other hand, his oeuvre includes series inspired by the natural world, taking, for instance, budding roses, wild animals and faraway planets as subjects.
Longo has also worked extensively in film and video, directing for example the feature film Johnny Mnemonic starring Keanu Reeves and music videos for the likes of REM and New Order.
Longo has had solo and group exhibitions in famous institutions around the world, including at the Hall Art Foundation | Schloss Derneburg Museum, Germany; Deichtorhallen Hamburg; Brooklyn Museum; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice; Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin; National Picasso Museum, Paris; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; Albertina, Vienna; Whitney Museum, New York, among many others. He has been included in Documenta 7 and 8, the 1983 and 2004 Whitney Biennials, and the 47th Venice Biennale. His work is held in some of the most prestigious collections worldwide, including the Tate Collection, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; D.C., Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, to name just a few.