Depending on who you talk to, Hujar (who died in 1987 from AIDS) was charismatic or infuriating, shy or belligerent. He wore skirts, flung barstools at gallerists, and emitted an energy that could be likened to a siren’s call—most who met Hujar fell in love with him on the spot. “Every time I introduced someone to him, they would call me the next day and say ‘who’s that guy?’ and ‘could we get together again?’” recalled Aletti, during Tuesday’s talk with Lebowitz, artist Gary Schneider, and curator Joel Smith. “He was somebody that people really were drawn to. He had a way of being intimate with people quickly [...], and he managed to get away with a lot that most people wouldn’t.” The current Paul Kasmin exhibition “Lost Downtown
,” presented with Pace/MacGill Gallery
, celebrates the bounty of Hujar’s alluring presence and discerning eye: a cache of tender, tragic black-and-white photographs that show the passionate lives and untimely deaths of his friends, lovers, and muses.
On the walls of the tiny space, portraits of Lebowitz and Aletti join the likes of William S. Burroughs, Susan Sontag,
, Hujar’s long-time lover. They sit comfortably or lounge supine. Some gaze softly at the camera or open their lips in a relaxed way, as if about to crack a smile or lunge for a kiss. We also see Divine, famed drag queen, stripped of her signature stage, skintight dress, and messy bouffant. Her bald head’s been revealed, but she’s surprisingly unphased.