Robert Longo

Born in Brooklyn in 1953, Robert Longo witnessed at full force the post-war influence of mass media on society; his fascination with popular culture blossomed during his childhood, and, eventually, became a core element of his art.
His practice was immediately noticed, and, after obtaining a grant in 1972 to study at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, he returned to the United States and received a BFA at the Buffalo State University College in 1975. He moved back to New York City later in the same decade, joining the underground artistic scene and was subsequently linked to the artistic group Picture Generation – which appropriated images from mass media to create their own art.
While Longo has worked in a variety of media – including performance, photography, sculpture and painting – he is best known for his large-scale, hyper-realistic charcoal drawings that reflect on the construction of symbols of power and authority. Inspired by Carl Jung's notion of the collective unconscious, he explores the effects of living in an image-saturated.
Despite his growth to adulthood while Pop Art was dominating the artistic scene, Robert Longo developed a completely different practice: his heavily contrasted, black and white, photo realistic drawings go against the Pop Art rhetoric of the glorification of the consumerist goods, as he rather seems to condemn the overpowering effect of capitalist society on its subjects. His technique involves the use of charcoal and graphite as malleable materials, as he works them into thick, porous paper to create visually impactful drawings. The richness of the black is also given by the use of ink and by the astounding contrast against sharp whites that he often carves out with an eraser.