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  • Provenance

    Freidus/Ordover Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Larry Clark was keen as a teenager to record his experience growing up in 1960s suburbia to ultimately present a viewpoint that stood in a stark, gritty contrast to the common perception of Midwestern suburban teens heretofore. From 1959, the year he turned sixteen, Clark began using drugs en masse with his friends, an experience he began documenting from 1963 through 1971. The end result was Tulsa, lot 163, an indelible mosaic whose honesty is brutal and raw, depicting an array of individuals whose youthful, smooth skin is riddled with needle marks, gun shots, bruises and cuts. Collectively, the series contradicted the widely held
    view of the time that Midwestern suburban teens were well sheltered from the diseased and destructive activities commonly attributed to their urban counterparts. The images were unapologetic and controversial, jolting viewers from their comfort zone, demanding a reshuffling of the viewers’ schematic associations with teenage years, and begetting an overwhelming sense of sympathy.

    It is also in Teenage Lust, lot 166, in which Clark presents an honest portrayal of teenagers’ life. The series was done in 1983, by which point Clark had safely exited his own teenage years and the predicaments that typified them. Nonetheless, the work is unambiguously autobiographical, bookended by appropriated images from Clark’s personal family album. As a result, the individuals shown in Teenage Lust became surrogates for Clark’s own early pack of friends, and more so, of Clark himself. In fact, the portfolio is presented as a family album, with the images snugly tucked into mylar sheets. The comfortable, familial association with family albums is consequently disrupted and Clark’s presence is palpable. Accordingly, Teenage Lust is equal in intensity and candor. The individuals are shown cavorting, hugging, sleeping and touching, fully aware of their bodies, still in the process of maturation. Once again, the subjects’ skin becomes a vessel for Clark to portray their psychological state, unabashedly exposing far more than that which is normally covered by clothes. The narrative in Tulsa and Teenage Lust attests to a larger, social and demographic shift that was occurring from the early 1960s through the 1980s. As eighteen-year-olds were drafted to serve in increasingly unpopular wars, and movements to end racial
    segregation, gender discrimination and suppression of sexual orientation were rife, the teenagers in Larry Clark’s two portfolios became emblems of the growing changes that had risen about, forever altering America’s perception of its youth.

166

Teenage Lust

1981
Eighty-three gelatin silver prints.
Each approximately 8 x 12 in. (20.3 x 30.5 cm) or the reverse.
Each signed in pencil on the verso. Numbered 4 in ink on the colophon. Title page. One from an edition of 100 plus 15 artist’s proofs. Enclosed in the original linen album with mylar sleeves and original linen slipcase.

Estimate
$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for $43,750

Photographs

4 October 2011
New York