This is a seoia-toned black-and-white photograph of buffaloes blindly chasing one another off the edge of a rocky mountain cliff.
Untitled (Buffaloes)


Estate stamp in black ink, verso
Also initialed “TWR” and numbered in black ink, verso

Platinum print (Edition of 100 + 20 unnumbered artist’s proofs)

16 x 20 inches (40.64 x 50.8 cm), sheet
14 × 18 (35.56 × 45.72 cm), image

Printed by Sal Lopes.
Accompanied by original colophon as issued and an original text by David Wojnarowicz from Close to the Knives (New York City: Vintage Books, 1991).

David Breslin and David Kiehl, David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 2018), plate 125

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David Wojnarowicz created “Untitled (Buffaloes)” after seeing a diorama of buffaloes being driven off a cliff at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. The artist had recently been diagnosed with AIDS, which at the time was considered a death sentence; his appropriated image of the tumbling buffaloes is widely considered a reaction to his despair regarding his illness and of the American gay community in general, which felt neglected and abandoned by their government in the face of the epidemic. Wojnarowicz was a vocal AIDS activist, and this image was made the same year that he inherited the darkroom of his friend Peter Hujar, who died from complications of AIDS a year prior. “By isolating this scene,” notes the Philadelphia Museum of Art, “the artist creates a haunting meditation on an American symbol hurtling toward its death, a deeply personal commentary on life during the AIDS crisis,” offering “a striking and unique example of photography’s memorializing function.” Wojnarowciz died of aids in 1992, at the age of 38.

Work by David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992)