© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
David Wojnarowicz, American (Red Bank, NJ 1954 - 1992 New York, NY)
Other Titles
Series/Book Title: Sex Series
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Gelatin silver print
Gelatin silver print
40.6 × 50.8 cm (16 × 20 in.)
[Gary Schneider and John Erdman, New York], gift/sale; to Harvard Art Museums, 2016. Note: Printed in collaboration with the artist or the artist's estate and retained by Schneider/Erdman per agreement.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Schneider/Erdman Printer's Proof Collection, partial gift, and partial purchase through the Margaret Fisher Fund
© The Estate of David Wojnarowicz
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Label Text: Analog Culture: Printer’s Proofs from the Schneider/Erdman Photography Lab, 1981–2001 , written 2018
In his Sex Series, Wojnarowicz used the aesthetic of X-rays to examine the physical and psychological violence of AIDS. Pornographic, medical, and monetary imagery, framed in circles, punctuates landscapes and urban infrastructure. Wojnarowicz meticulously crafted these photographs in the darkroom through a combination of montage and stenciling techniques, meaning that no negatives of the final images existed. To make these reproductions, Schneider first photographed the originals to create negatives, then carefully masked and selectively exposed areas of the images in the darkroom. This method allowed him to re-create the tonal variation of Wojnarowicz’s prints and ensured that the texts, which include newspaper clippings detailing violence against gay men, were legible. Wojnarowicz produced the original prints in the darkroom previously owned by his friend and lover Peter Hujar, who had recently died from AIDS-related complications. He also sourced imagery from Hujar’s pornography collection. Hujar’s death, along with Wojnarowicz’s own HIV-positive diagnosis, drove the artist to create works that made public the disease’s private realities. This is powerfully represented in the impending collision between the train and blood cells, which the artist intended as a metaphor for “his own diagnosis and compressed sense of mortality.”

Publication History

Jennifer Quick, ed., Analog Culture: Printer’s Proofs from the Schneider/Erdman Photography Lab, 1981–2001, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2018), pp. 48, 56-57, fig. 17, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

Analog Culture: Printer’s Proofs from the Schneider/Erdman Photography Lab, 1981–2001, Harvard Art Museums, 05/19/2018 - 08/12/2018

Subjects and Contexts

Analog Culture

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