The 1970s were beginning, and the whole of the New York underground art scene could fit into a restaurant. This is how Fran Lebowitz (New Jersey, 1950) remembers it, although it was not in one of them that he met the legendary photographer Peter Hujar, but in a projection in Manhattan’s Uptown. “I had heard of him. He was very handsome. And that night she was wearing a skirt, a coarse garment, like a librarian, something that at that time violated the law. He told me that it didn’t seem fair to him that women could wear pants and men should not wear skirts. We became inseparable, but I never saw him wear one again, ”she recalls on the phone.
A columnist in Warhol’s Interview magazine, Lebowitz’s sharpness has made her as famous as her pen block: she has gone 30 years without publishing anything, something that has not diminished her self-assurance or popularity. In an interview in The Paris Review, he stated that he wrote so slowly that he could write with his own blood, without this having any harmful effect on his health. Her masculine tailored suits, her sunglasses and an eternal cigarette in her hand have earned her a fixed place on the list of the most elegant, and her gifts as a brilliant public speaker and social observer were portrayed in the documentary that Martin Scorsese dedicated to her. , Public Speaking. Long before all this, Lebowitz was walking through Manhattan with Peter Hujar and later with the lover and disciple of his friend, the artist David Wojnarowicz. In Meatpacking, now crowded with boutiques and hotels, Hujar taught her to drive, when there were only rats, transvestites and butchers.
A sample of the work of both artists is on display until August 26 at the Loewe Foundation in Madrid, within PHotoEspaña, and Lebowitz will participate tomorrow in a two-way conversation about the political and artistic scene in Manhattan in the seventies and eighties with the New York gallery owner Gracie Mansion. “I hated photos, but Peter didn’t make you feel like those fashion photographers. He thought of you, and, in fact, he almost always photographed only his friends, ”he explains. Hujar died of AIDS in 1987 and Wojnarowicz in 1992; The latter, whose work is on display this month at the Whitney Museum in New York, became an indefatigable activist. “They both had a Dickensian childhood, nothing to do with mine. That’s why Peter loved coming to my parents’ house in the suburbs, it seemed the most exotic thing in the world. He was difficult, although not with me. I think because she was the only one who wasn’t in love with him. I saw him shoot and hit gallery owners who wanted to help him, and I told him: « This is not the way to progress, » he says with a laugh. “David was incredibly passionate. To me, he was like a son of Peter, but he invested a lot of energy in fighting against evangelical Christians or even his landlord. I was trying to tell him that you never win those fights. «
The last five-year heyday of Hujar’s work, to whom the Morgan Library dedicated an exhibition, and Wojnarowicz’s work, with the reissue of his Waterfront Journals and the skyrocketing auction prices of his work, is not much of a surprise. to Lebowitz. “Nostalgia in culture is poisonous because it slows down. Today it seems that the New York of the seventies is like the Paris of the twenties, they have romanticized it; the truth is that there is no counterculture. People can find out absolutely everything, « he says. Lebowitz already made his position on the relationship between life and art clear in one of his articles from the eighties: “More often than it seems, life imitates crafts, because who among us can say that their experience does not resemble more like a macrame hanging pot than a Seurat painting? ”.