Jimmy De Sana: 101 Nudes and Other Works

August 2 – August 31, 2011
Printed Matter - 195 Tenth Avenue New York, NY

Printed Matter presents a collection of work from proto-punk artist and photographer Jimmy De Sana who was also featured on NERO n.24. Featuring his rarely exhibited “101 Nudes” portfolio alongside original Polaroids, a hand-collaged scrapbook, and out-of-print publications carrying his images, the exhibition represents the first New York showing of his work in five years. The artwork will be on view at Printed Matter

When De Sana (1950-1990) shot and self-published the 56 halftone images that would make up the “101 Nudes” series, he was just 20 years old and still a college student in Atlanta. Using his friends as models, he constructed each photograph as an insight into the possibilities of form, capturing with his flash-camera something both artful and sincere. His subjects (nearly all of them naked) were “without eroticism” as De Sana has said, the series as much about isolation as it is sexuality. The careful, strange postures of his figures, collapsed across a couch or balanced on a dining-room table, often had a touch of the surreal.

His later work, in particular the S&M series that came to comprise his 1980 book Submission (also on display), explored sexuality and digression front-on in the spirit of William Burroughs, whose writing was a significant influence on the artist from a young age. De Sana created these images–which pre-dated Mapplethorpe’s fetish work–with an even stronger sense for composition, all the while seeking the boundaries of comfort through the bizarrely positioned, leather-bound figures.

Two original Polaroids from 1974 are also on view, as well as a 4-print set of large images (3 figurative and 1 abstract), prefiguring the artist’s substantial contribution to the field of color photography. Lighting and color-saturation overtake the image’s content so that figures fade into the grainy wash of fantastic colors.

Lastly on display is Vol. 1 No. 4 of VILE magazine with De Sana’s cover photo of a naked, hanged man-with-erection (originally shot for FILE in 1974), along with the original print of the same work. The image intrigued Burroughs enough upon seeing it that he reached out to De Sana to initiate an extended correspondence between the two.

The “101 Nudes” portfolio was originally self-published in 1972, and later published by A.R.T. Press, in 1991. Printed Matter is showing the complete set of prints from the A.R.T. Press edition, which is available for purchase at $5,000 here. The set of 4 color prints was done is an edition of 28, and is available here.

Jimmy De Sana (A.R.T. Press, 1990), a monograph of the artist’s work, features an interview by Laurie Simmons and an essay by Roberta Smith. It is available at the Printed Matter storefront, or can be purchased online here.

Jimmy De Sana (1950-1990) was an artist and photographer who documented the downtown art and music scene, taking many early portraits of the figures who would define the era. His work was shown in solo exhibitions at Galerie Jablonka, Cologne (1989) and Pat Hearn Gallery, New York (1988, 1986). His Group shows include “Hollywoodland”, Fiction/Nonfiction, New York (1989); “Erotophobia”, Simon Watson Gallery, New York (1989); “Staging The Self: Photography 1840 – 1985”, National Portrait Gallery, London (1985); “Lower East Side”, Artists Space, New York (1984); “Subculture”, Group Material, Franklin Furnace, New York (1983); “New York, New Wave”, PS1, New York (1981); “Times Square Show”, New York (1980)

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All images Courtesy Printed Matter Inc.