September 6 – October 6, 2007
ClampArt is pleased to present “Mark Morrisroe (1959-1989),” an exhibition of photographs, films, and ephemera —the first solo show of the artist’s work since the last landmark exhibit at Pat Hearn Gallery in 1999.
Mark Morrisroe’s life and work were inseparable. The unofficial leader of what has now been coined The Boston School (including Nan Goldin, David Armstrong, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Tabboo!, and Gail Thacker—a group of artists who attended either the School of the Museum of Fine Arts or Massachusetts College of Art between 1971 and 1984), Morrisroe’s work typifies in many ways what is now understood as autobiographical photography. Nonetheless, Morrisroe is unjustly perhaps one of the least-known members of this circle due to his tragic death from AIDS-related complications at the age of thirty in 1989.
Now revered with an almost cult-like fervor among a select group of artists, including many of those who knew him during his lifetime, Morrisroe created some of the most important and influential photographic images in the late 1970s and 1980s. Indeed, Morrisroe’s diaristic artwork was fueled by his notoriously radical persona—a teenage prostitute raised by a drug-addled mother who turned her own tricks while her son slept in the next room. Morrisroe walked with a cane and a pronounced limp (and resultantly fell quite frequently) due to a legendary bullet lodged deep within his chest—a wound inflicted in high school when shot by a disgruntled john.
In both Polaroids and signature color photographs, Morrisroe created a rough, gritty style unto his own. Often scrawling unusual and elaborate texts along the borders of his prints, the artist also would re-touch fingerprints, scratches, and dust found throughout his images with paints of contrasting tones, thus highlighting the technical imperfections of his work. Critic Klaus Ottmann has written, “Morrisroe’s Polaroids, color prints, and Super 8 films embrace the ‘trash’ aesthetic celebrated in films by Andy Warhol, Jack Smith, and John Waters, and ubiquitous in Goldin’s early pictures and her slide show, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. . .”
Artworks by other members of The Boston School—namely Morrisroe’s close friends and associates—will be featured in ClampArt’s Project Room.