ClampArt is very proud to present “Boston to New York: David Armstrong (1954-2014), Nan Goldin (b. 1953), and Mark Morrisroe (1959-1989).” These three artists largely represent the core of what has now been coined the Boston School—a group of artists who attended either the School of the Museum of Fine Arts or Massachusetts College of Art between 1971 and 1984. (Other unofficial members include Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Jack Pierson, Stephen Tashjian, etc.)
Elisabeth Sussman, the Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography at the Whitney Museum of American Art, writes: “[T]here was, and continues to be, a consistent Boston aesthetic. . . For all of the remarkable differences among these artists, similarities emerge—a strong engagement with the direct photograph and a consistent exploration of the group of people who constitute the photographers’ social milieu and through whose lives reveal the photographers’ beliefs (that is not too strong a word) about friendship and love, sexuality, and the potential of polymorphously gendered identity.” Not only friends with a shared artistic sensibility, these photographers were also routinely the subjects of one another’s images.
Sharing a non-romantic relationship and sometimes a home over a period of decades, Nan Goldin and David Armstrong first became close friends well before college at the Satya Community School, an alternative high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at age 14. Both of them then attended the Museum School, where they eventually met Mark Morrisroe in 1977. In fact, Armstrong was a strong advocate of Morrisroe’s admission. And, Goldin remembers: “[Morrisroe] left shit in my mailbox as a gesture of friendship.”
Armstrong soon moved to New York in the late 1970s, and Goldin followed him a year later, taking an apartment just around the corner. Morrisroe would not move to the city until later in 1986—just a few years before his death to AIDS-related complications.
ClampArt brings together a broad range of diaristic photographs by these three artists from the expanse of their amazing careers. The exhibition is in honor of David Armstrong, whose untimely death came in October 2014. The immense influence of these three photographers on younger generations cannot be overstated.