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Pictures Generation Star Robert Longo Heads to Pace Gallery After Metro Pictures’s Closure

When the influential New York gallery Metro Pictures announced its imminent closure earlier this year, the news sent shockwaves throughout the international art world, with many speculating which galleries might take on its esteemed roster of artists. Now, Pace Gallery has announced that it will represent longtime Metro artist Robert Longo. His first exhibition with Pace will be in September at its flagship New York space on West 25th Street.

Pace will represent Longo in the United States and Europe in collaboration with Longo’s longtime European gallery, Thaddaeus Ropac.

In an email, Pace CEO Marc Glimcher said, “I have been a Robert Longo SuperFan since I started working at Pace in 1985. His ability to capture our generation’s worldview on paper, the way our bands captured it on vinyl, was and is unique. Robert speaks in the language of memory, marked down in velvet in sheets of charcoal and iconographically reconstituted in brilliant Black and White.”

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Longo is best known for his intensely photorealistic drawings that appropriate images from mass media. His first foray into this mode is his famed “Men in the Cities” series, which he exhibited at Metro Pictures in 1981. That showing, combined with his inclusion in the foundational 1977 exhibition “Pictures” at Artists Space, curated by Douglas Crimp, cemented his status as part of the Pictures Generation, a group of New York artists whose practices examined the complex ways in which images circulate and impact society.

Longo expanded to working in other mediums, as in his mixed-media series “Combines,” begun in 1983, that incorporated everything from paint and graphite to wood, plaster, cast bronze, and steel, or his 1990 “Black Flags,” of cast-bronze flags. He has also directed a feature film, Johnny Mnemonic (1996). But Longo eventually returned to creating graphite and charcoal works, this time at large scale, in numerous series since 1999, including “Monsters,” “The Mysteries,” “The Destroyer Cycle,” and “Gang of Cosmos.”

He is currently at work on a new series, titled “A History of the Present,” begun last year amid the pandemic and which will be shown as part of his September show at Pace. On deck for Longo are a solo show of recent work at the Palm Springs Art Museum in California, opening in July, and a career retrospective at the Albertina Museum in Vienna, opening in fall 2024.

Photorealistic charcoal drawing of a giant wave

Robert Longo, Untitled (Hellion), 2011.
Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

In an email, Longo wrote, “After 40 years of showing with the same gallery, Metro Pictures, finding a new home was not easy. Once I spent time with Marc and experienced his energy, enthusiasm, and insight into my work, I said ‘That’s my guy.’ I remember as a young artist going to shows at Pace and being in awe of both the gallery and the artists they showed. What Arne and Marc have built is truly inspiring. I hope to contribute to Pace Gallery’s illustrious history.”  

In March, the founders of Metro Pictures Helene Winer and Janelle Reiring, who had been influential in cementing the careers of the Pictures Generation—like Longo, Cindy Sherman, and Louise Lawler—as well as other artists working in photography and related media, announced that after 40 years in business it would begin to wind down its operations this year.

[Read about why Metro Pictures decided to close.]

“We had no pressure to close or stop business or anything of the sort,” Winer told ARTnews at the time. “But there was a certain assessment of the realities of this world we operate in.” One of those realities was the increasing influence of mega-galleries like Pace or Hauser & Wirth, which has since began representing two former Metro Pictures artists, Sherman and Gary Simmons.

In his email, Glimcher added, “Pace is honored to follow the incredible 40 year partnership Robert had with Helene Winer and Janelle Reiring. Metro Pictures’ contribution to our art world simply cannot be overstated.”

In addition to adding Longo to its roster, Pace has also hired Karine Haimo, a sales director at Metro Pictures who worked closely with Longo. Haimo, who got her start in the art world at Pace 15 years ago, will now be a London-based senior director at the gallery.

“Robert and I have been working closely together ever since I joined Metro Pictures nine years ago,” Haimo said in an email. “I feel an immense sense of pride and responsibility in continuing my relationship with Robert at Pace, after a storied 40-year career with Metro. I know that Pace’s pioneering spirit and strong connections worldwide combined with Robert’s larger-than-life work will lead to enterprising projects.”

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