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  • During the 1980s David Wojnarowicz explored found objects and images, possibly at first out of desperation. Living on the Lower East Side at the time, Wojnarowicz did not have a stable income and took to scouring the streets for materials. Attracted to the discarded ‘Sale of the Week’ posters that hung in supermarket windows, Wojnarowicz tracked down the commercial screenprinting studio that produced them and obtained freshly printed sheets.

     

    It was artist Kiki Smith who originally taught David Wojnarowicz how to screenprint in 1983 when they collaborated on a print (Psychiatric Clinic: Court of General Sessions). Intrigued by the medium, Wojnarowicz's friend and fellow artist Keith Davis offered the use of the screenprinting equipment in his apartment. Steve Doughton, artist, filmmaker, and friend remembered Wojnarowicz and Davis in the early 1980’s screenprinting on top of the supermarket posters there. Wojnarowicz later reflected on these prints saying:

    "I like to subvert the intended use of printed material[s]. . . It’s like whatever you can find that is just printed in the street that you can see just walking down the street.  Whatever you see that is in use that has been printed I like to work with because there are a variety of meanings by putting any image on top of it."

    A victim of the AIDS epidemic, Wojnarowicz died in New York at the age of 37. He left behind an important body of work that at once provoked and questioned inherent inequality in the United States. Wojnarowicz both embraced and made public his sexuality, at a time when the U.S. preferred to pretend homosexuality didn’t exist. Throughout his career, Wojnarowicz chose imagery that depicted his perspective on current events: what he felt was culturally relevant, and often neglected, at that time.

    "To make the private into something public is an action that has terrific ramifications in the pre-invented world." —David Wojnarowicz

    David Wojnarowicz image for the Rosa von Praunheim film Silence=Death, 1989. Photographed by Andreas Sterzing. Courtesy © Andreas Sterzing.
    David Wojnarowicz image for the Rosa von Praunheim film Silence=Death, 1989. Photographed by Andreas Sterzing. Courtesy © Andreas Sterzing.

    Wojnarowicz first exhibited his supermarket prints in his first solo show at Civilian Warfare on the Lower East Side in June of 1983. Reviewed by Grace Glueck, in the New York Times, June 26, 1983:

     

    “The gallery [Civilian Warfare] is currently presenting the work of David Wojnarowicz, a painter who has shown in SoHo's Milliken Gallery and at alternative spaces around town. His sometimes stirring images - violent, erotic, and political - are painted over supermarket food posters, on garbage can lids, found pieces of metal and other materials, and they seem right at home in the gritty street ambiance that surrounds them.” 

    • Exhibited

      David Wojnarowicz, History Keeps Me Awake at Night, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2018, (other examples exhibited)

    • Literature

      David Wojnarowicz, History Keeps Me Awake at Night exh. cat., the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2018, cat. no. 38 and 42, pp. 156-157 (other examples illustrated)

50

Jean Genêt Masturbating in Metteray Prison (London Broil); and True Myth (Domino Sugar) (W. 38, 42)

1983
Two screenprints in colors, on supermarket posters, with full margins.
both approximately I. 30 5/8 x 22 3/8 in. (77.8 x 56.8 cm)
both S. 34 x 25 in. (86.4 x 63.5 cm)

Both signed, titled, annotated ©1983 NYC and numbered 11/43 and 11/47 in pencil respectively (there were also an unknown number of artist's proofs), published by the artist, both framed.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for $20,160

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 20 - 22 April 2021