Robert Longo: Surrendering the Absolutes

Surrendering the Absolutes, 2009, Installation view (c) Robert Longo courtesy by Metro Pictures, New York

Robert Longo shows new work at Metro Pictures Gallery in New York, USA. The sculpture ‘Surrendering the Absolutes’ gave also its title to the whole exhibition.


It is a 12-foot tower consisting of four black drawings framed behind glass.


The tower reflects the viewers and all other works of art in the gallery.


I like it because it ‘communicates’ with the other works very well.







He is still doing his typical large-scale representational charcoal drawings.


But he moved away from a serial motif approach to a series of atmospheric and light sensations.


Untitled (Cathedral of Light), 2008, Charcoal on mounted paper, 119-7/8 x 59-3/4 inches (each panel), 300 x 148 cm, (MP# D-899) (c) Robert Longo courtesy Metro Pictures, NYC


Eye catching is his large five-panel 25-foot drawing ‘Untitled (Cathedral of Light)’. It shows sunlight flooding through a cathedral’s windows.


Untitled (Et In Arcadia Ego), 2009, Charcoal on mounted paper, 60 x 114 inches, 152.4 x 289.6 cm, (MP# D-982) (c) Robert Longo courtesy by Metro Pictures, NYC


Or ‘Untitled (Et In Arcadia Ego)’: A lonely figure walking through a strangely illuminated forest.


Untitled (The Sound of Speed and Light), 2009, Charcoal on mounted paper, 59-3/4 x 95-1/2 inches (image), 148 x 240 cm, 64-1/8 x 99-7/8 inches (frame), 162.2 x 249.2 cm, (MP# D-973), (c) Robert Longo courtesy by Metro Pictures, NYC


I especially liked ‘Untitled (The Speed of Light and Sound)’ showing four musicians in the light on stage.


These three examples illustrate well his shift from motif series (like slipping people or explosion clouds) to light studies.


Untitled (The Judge's Hat), 2009, Charcoal on mounted paper, 70 x 86 inches image, 177.8 x 218.4 cm, (MP# D-987) (c) Robert Longo courtesy Metro Pictures, NYC


I did not like his drawing ‘Untitled (The Judge's Hat)’ also of 2009: I think this work is to ‘simple’ – but maybe I am not enough American therefore.


Untitled (Study of Eric), 1981-1988, charcoal graphite, ink on paper, (MP# D-246) (c) Robert Longo courtesy Metro Pictures, NYC


Mr. Longo has become well known in the early 1980s with his life-size charcoal drawings of trendy dressed people falling or slipping awkwardly. (All black and white - very 80s: I remember these being also a decoration in Patrick Bateman’s apartment in the movie ‘American Psycho’…)


Robert Longo contributed to most of the important group shows like Documenta in Kassel, or Whitney and Venice Biennial.



At Metro Pictures Gallery, 519 West 24th Street, NYC from 23 April to 30 May 2009.


by K.L.



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