Jimmy DeSana: Portraits 1977 – 1979
Daniel Cooney Fine Art is sharing a collection of vintage photographs previously exhibited in 1980 at the Stefanotti Gallery in New York, Jimmy DeSana, Portraits 1977 – 79, through August 1st, 2014. This group of iconic photographs has been kept intact by Robert Stefanotti for 34 years and has not been seen in public. The collection of 14 photographic panels (49 individual photographs in total) will be exhibited as they were in 1980, with mats hand-cut and signed by DeSana. Jimmy DeSana died of AIDS in 1990 at the age of 40. He created a varied and large body of work in his short life–today’s post features portraits of his contemporaries from 1977 – 79, images of art/music world people of the day such as Jack Smith, Patti Astor, William Burroughs, Anya Phillips of the Mudd Club and a host of others. According to Wikipedia, Jimmy was a key figure in the East Village punk art scene of the 1970s and 1980s and his photography has been described as “anti-art” in its approach to capturing images of the human body, in a manner ranging from “savagely explicit to purely symbolic”.
The 1980 exhibition was a follow up to DeSana’s successful debut at Stefanotti Gallery the previous year. The artist decided to show his portraits of New York art and music personalities of the time, mixing his downtown scene with Stefanotti’s uptown scene. The portraits reveal the eclectic energy in New York society and the different lifestyles of two men who were lifelong friends and collaborators.
The photographs document a fleeting time in New York City’s history that was electric with creativity and youthful exuberance, just a moment before the AIDS epidemic. In the photographs we see DeSana’s creative mind at work and we are able to revisit the artists, musicians, writers and patrons that formed DeSana’s creative community. Included in the mix of subjects are Andy Warhol, Nam June Paik, Jack Smith, William Burroughs, Ethel Scull and Patti Astor among other luminaries.
Jimmy DeSana was born in 1949 in Detroit. He moved to New York City in 1973 and played a vital role in photography’s move to the forefront of the 1980’s art scene. He was also a key figure in the East Village Punk and No Wave communities. In addition to exhibiting at Stefanotti Gallery he showed his work at Pat Hearn Gallery in the late 80’s and posthoumously at Salon 94 in 2013. DeSana published 101 Nudes in 1972 and Submission in 1980. DeSana died of AIDS in New York City in 1990. Stefanotti officiated his memorial service.
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