R.I.P. David Armstrong, New York Art and Night Life Photographer
Age 60, Armstrong died from liver cancer.
New York-based photographer David Armstrong, who had been suffering from liver cancer, died on Saturday at age 60, reports Vogue. His passing was confirmed by his agency. He was known for his tender, intimate portraits of young men.
Armstrong rose to prominence with images of the New York art and night life scene from the 1970s and ’80s and is often linked to fellow “Boston School” photographer and close friend Nan Goldin, with whom he was featured in the 1980 exhibition “New York/New Wave” at MoMA PS1. In 1994, Switzerland’s Museum für Gestaltung Zurich and New York’s Matthew Marks Gallery presented a show of work by the two artists, titled “Nan Goldin/David Armstrong: A Double Life.” In 1996, Armstrong also worked so closely with Elizabeth Sussman on Goldin’s first retrospective, “I’ll Be Your Mirror”, at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, that he was credited as a co-curator. Armstrong’s work is included in the Whitney museum’s permanent collection, and was featured in its 1994 Whitney Biennial.
Straddling the line between art and fashion, Armstrong relied on natural lighting to create soft focus, romantic close-up portraits. He worked for high-end fashion designers such as Burberry and Alexander Wang but found that his work was not a perfect fit for fashion. “I do the editorials and don’t get the ad campaigns,” he told the New York Times. “[Brands] don’t want any indication of emotion, particularly if it’s negative. They want something a bit more sanitized, and they’re not going to get it from me.”
In an interview with Out magazine upon the publication of his critically acclaimed 2011 monograph 615 Jefferson Avenue, Armstrong described his photographic process: “It’s mostly horrible pictures and then a great one,” he admitted. “At the time that you’re doing it, there’s this whole sense of urgency that something has to be great. And as the day goes on, it doesn’t seem so crucial anymore. I always think you want to come away with some beautiful, beautiful picture of the person, the boy, that’s really everything you want to express about them.”
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