Robert Longo, Wave, 2003. Courtesy of Elizabeth Clement Fine Art.

Robert Longo: Waves

“The shape of a wave is not necessarily dictated by how strong the wind is,” Robert Longo once explained. “It’s dictated by what’s deep underneath it. It’s like psychoanalysis.” Longo began drawing towering waves in 1999, using his signature hyperrealistic technique to transform black-and-white charcoal into thunderous ocean forms. At this time, Longo was fascinated by phenomena that only seem to exist for an instant, such as crashing waves, prowling sharks, and exploding bombs. By capturing these moments in precise detail, Longo aimed to add a sense of beauty to these sublime yet terrifying forces of nature. While Longo titled his series of wave drawings “Monsters” after their intimidating grandeur, he also named each individual work after a popular surfing beach or phrase, such as Angel’s Wing, Hell’s Gate, Dragon Head, and Black Tube.

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