Exposed for Eternity: Mark Morrisroe’s Walk on the Wild Side [NSFW]

By
Share:

Mark Morrisroe was a gifted artist who died poor and in relative obscurity, while suffering from AIDS related illnesses, at the young age of 30 in 1989. Born to an alcoholic mother and absent father, Morrisroe was the ultimate poetic punk of his time. Claiming to be the son of the infamous Boston Strangler, who was actually his mother’s landlord and neighbor, he became a teenage prostitute in order to get his own Boston apartment and pay for his high school graduation. Savvy and talented, he gained acceptance to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he soon met such artists as Nan Goldin, David Armstrong, Jack Pierson, and Mike and Doug Starn.

Because of his dedicated dealer Pat Hearn, whom he had known in Boston and showed with in the East Village, and her husband, the eccentric art dealer Colin de Land, Morrisroe’s experimental body of work was primarily kept intact when he died. Now after years of research and documentation, his edgy Polaroids, hand-painted C-prints, trippy photograms, and Super-8 films are on view in overlapping exhibitions at Artists Space and Clamp Art in New York, studied in an online show at Visual Aids, and thoroughly surveyed in a powerful new monograph, published by JRP|Ringier. A true romantic who walked on the wild side, Morrisroe left an inspiring legacy of meaningful art that he made for a song, yet eventually paid for with his life.

Click through a gallery of images from the Artists Space show and book below.

Mark Morrisroe, Self-Portrait (to Brent), 1982, C-print, negative sandwich, retouched with ink and inscribed with marker. Collection Brent Sikkema

Mark Morrisroe, Pat as Kiki, fall 81, Paris, 1985, Gelatin silver print from Polaroid negative, inscribed with ink. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur

Mark Morrisroe, Untitled (Self-Portrait with Jonathan), 1979, Polaroid. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur

Mark Morrisroe, Untitled, 1988, C-print, negative sandwich. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur

Mark Morrisroe, After the Laone (In the Home of a London Rubber Fetishist, Dec 82), 1983, C-print, negative sandwich, retouched with ink and inscribed with marker. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur

Mark Morrisroe, Untitled, 1987, Gelatin silver print, photogram of printed material. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur

Mark Morrisroe, Dried Arrangement, 1986, C-print, negative sandwich, retouched with ink and inscribed with marker. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur

Mark Morrisroe, Untitled, 1982, Polaroid. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur

Mark Morrisroe, La Mome Piaf ( Pat and Thierry), 1982, C-print, negative sandwich, retouched with ink and inscribed with marker. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur

Mark Morrisroe, Untitled (Self-Portrait), 1986, Gelatin Silver Print. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur

Mark Morrisroe, Blow Both of Us, Gail Thacker and Me, Summer, 1978, 1986, C-print, negative sandwich, retouched with ink and inscribed with marker. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur

Mark Morrisroe, Untitled (Self-Portrait), 1989, Polaroid. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur