The Radical Poetics of David Wojnarowicz

A preview of the Whitney Museum’s survey of the iconoclastic New York artist.

The first major monographic exhibition of David Wojnarowicz’s work will bring his artistic output—including photo-text collages—to a new generation. “Few people are familiar with the visual side of his unfortunately short career,” says exhibition cocurator David Kiehl. “Wojnarowicz used the camera as other artists would use a sketchbook: a source for images to be used and readapted within his work, as well as an early tool—even if borrowed—to express visually his literary notions.” In the late ’70s, Wojnarowicz photographed himself and his friends around New York with a picture of Arthur Rimbaud’s face covering each of their own—a conceptual intervention. But the series is also personal: Wojnarowicz strongly identified with the French poet, who was born almost exactly one hundred years before him and, like Wojnarowicz, was gay.

David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night is on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, from July 13–September 30, 2018.