Lot 408
  • 408

Robert Longo

350,000 - 450,000 USD
454,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Robert Longo
  • Untitled (Jo)
  • signed and inscribed (JO) on the reverse of the backing board
  • charcoal, graphite and ink on paper


Metro Pictures, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1982


Carter Ratcliffe, Robert Longo, New York, 1985, pl. no. 57, illustrated
Richard Price, Men in the Cities, New York, 1986, pl. no. 32, illustrated
Exh. Cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum, Robert Longo, October 1989 - September 1990, pl. 18, p. 92, illustrated

Catalogue Note

“The thing about gestures – I just want to take that imbalance and freeze it forever. It was like using the traditions of art, only introducing the gestures of the 80s. I don’t like modern dance; I think the best dance is the way people die in movies – they reel and jerk and explode in space. Sports is good dance, too – the beauty of a slam dunk.” Robert Longo

Capturing a gesture of utter unbalance, Untitled (JO) from 1982 is one of Robert Longo’s most kinetic large scale works. The viewer is confronted with an explosion of energy; an unequivocal force from an unrevealed source. The subject of the work, Joanna, buckles backwards, arms flailing and back arched. While the figure’s muscles contract in a vain effort to fight gravity, Joanna’s delicately detailed blonde hair is frozen taut with the power of motion echoing through the viewer. Longo meticulously crafts the figure out of charcoal and graphite, harnessing chiaroscuro with an astonishing emotional effect, much like the work of the most skillful Old Master artists. 

Part of the “Men in the Cities” series, this work encompasses an epic gestural strength – an effect spawned from Longo's unparalleled ability to elevate the practice of drawing from the intimate to the monumental. The closely cropped composition is an artistic technique that has been explored and experimented with throughout the last century by artists such as Claude Monet and Edgar Degas in his Four Dancers. The effect it has here is one of increased theatricality and an even greater immediacy to this frozen moment in time – an enthusiastic irony, or a provocative juxtaposition, to the extreme labor intensity that the work would have taken to create.