Photography Down The Line with Stephen Koch, Director of The Peter Hujar Archive (recorded: 7 September 2021)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks Stephen Koch, Director of The Peter Hujar Archive.
Stephen Koch is the author of two novels and five books of nonfiction, ranging from history to literary history and a handbook on creative writing called The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop. Koch has steadily written essays and reviews about literature, art, and the cultural scene. One of his books, Stargazer – The Life, World, and Films of Andy Warhol, is now regarded as a classic discussion of Warhol’s films, art and sensibility. Before Peter Hujar died as a victim of the AIDS pandemic, he named Koch as the executor of his entire artistic estate.
Peter Hujar (born 1934) died of AIDS in 1987, leaving behind a complex and profound body of photographs. Hujar was a leading figure in the group of artists, musicians, writers, and performers at the forefront of the cultural scene in downtown New York in the 1970s and early 80s, and he was enormously admired for his completely uncompromising attitude towards work and life. He was a consummate technician, and his portraits of people, animals, and landscapes, with their exquisite black-and-white tonalities, were extremely influential. Highly emotional yet stripped of excess, Hujar’s photographs are always beautiful, although rarely in a conventional way. His extraordinary first book, Portraits in Life and Death, with an introduction by Susan Sontag, was published in 1976, but his “difficult” personality and refusal to pander to the marketplace insured that it was one of the last publications during his lifetime.
For more information:
'The Pictures. Securing Peter Hujar's place among the greats' by Stephen Koch was published in the May 2018 edition of Harper's magazine. Available to read at www.harpers.org
Image: Blanket, 1985 ©️The Peter Hujar Archive LLC; Courtesy Pace Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco