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  • Beyond the Canvas

On World AIDS Day

“I want to be discussed in hushed tones. When people talk about me, I want them to be whispering.’ - Peter Hujar (b.1934 - d.1987)


With his powerful black & white portraits of people and animals and raw cityscapes in which he captured the unglamorous areas of New York he used to roam, Peter Hujar remains one of the most influential American photographers. He is known for spearheading an avant-garde group of artists and performers active in the Manhattan subculture of the 1970s and early 80s.


Fame came late to Hujar, thirty years after his death, but his iconic photographs have been on show across much of Europe and the USA, and many now belong in some of the most prestigious museums' permanent collections (Met, MOMA, the Whitney, the Art Institute of Chicago). Peter Hujar died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1987 at the age of fifty-three.


According to UNAIDS, in 2021 38.4 million people globally were living with HIV, 1.5 million people became infected, 650,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses, 84.2 million people have contracted the virus and a staggering 40.1 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic four decades ago. And while 28.7 million people have access to life-saving antiretroviral therapy, gender, racial, social and economic inequalities are holding the world back in its race to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.


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Peter Hujar

Self-portrait, 1980

© The Peter Hujar Archive



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