Famous Gay Photographers - Mark Morrisroe

Mark Morrisroe (January 10, 1959 in Malden, Massachusetts - July 24, 1989) was a performance artist and photographer. He is known for his performances and photographs, which were germane in the development of the punk scene in Boston in the 70's and the art world boom of the mid to late 80's in NYC. By the year of his death he had 2,000 pieces of work to his name.
Born to a drug-addicted mother, Morrisroe left home and began hustling at the age of 15. His mother was a tenant of Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler, and Mark often told people he was DeSalvo's illegitimate son. When he was 17 years old, one of his disgruntled clients shot him in the back, leaving him with a bullet lodged next to his spine for the rest of his life. The experience was a profound influence on Morrisroe's art, which often incorporated images of young prostitutes and X-rays of his injured chest. Morrisroe attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he made friends with several soon to be well known artists, including Nan Goldin, David Armstrong, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Stephen Tashjian (aka Tabboo!), Gail Thacker and Pat Hearn. His boyfriend while he lived in Boston was Johnathan Pierson, who later changed his name to Jack Pierson. He graduated from the Museum School with honors receiving the coveted "5th" Year" Award. While attending, he co-founded a zine, Dirt Magazine with his friend Lynelle White and performed as a drag character of his own creation named Sweet Raspberry.
His career as a photographer began when he was given a Polaroid Model 195 Land camera. He experimented with unusual development techniques, receiving generous support of supplies, film, and chemicals from the Polaroid Corporation. Within his close circle of friends he soon laid claim to the "invention" of what are called "sandwich" prints—enlargements of double negatives of the same subject mounted on top of one another—which yielded an elaborate pictorial quality, producing a very iconic painterly impression in the final result, which over time Morrisroe learned to use in an increasingly controlled way. Early on, the artist recognized the intrinsic value of prints—irrespective of the medium used to produce them—as pictorial objects that he could manipulate, color, paint, and write on at will. His photographs included landscapes and portraits, and his subjects included lovers, friends, hustlers, and people who visited his apartment. He also often incorporated stills from Super 8 films and comments he scrawled on the side of his pictures.
Morrisroe died on July 24, 1989 from complications of HIV. He is buried in McMinnville, Oregon on the farm of his last boyfriend, Ramsey McPhillips. His fame has increased steadily since his death. He is considered a member of the "Boston School" and his work is found in many important collections including that of the Whitney and MOCA of Los Angeles. The estate of Mark Morrisroe (Collection Ringier) is currently located at the Fotomuseum Winterthur.

1 comment:

  1. Mark was a much loved friend. Thank you for the lovely tribute.


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