Robert Longo Untitled (Ukrainian SU-27), 2019
Robert Longo is one of the leading artists of the ‘Pictures Generation’, a group of artists who emerged in the 1980s, turning away from Minimalism and Conceptual art to envisage image- making as a tool to investigate the power of images in the media and consumer society. Longo is celebrated for his large-scale drawings in charcoal based on photographs found in the main- stream media, reflecting on how images of power and authority are constructed. The artist first gained critical acclaim for his ‘Men in Cities’ series, which featured larger-than-life drawings
of businessmen writhing in contortion, a critical reappraisal of the ‘modern man’ which has sub- sequently become an iconic image for the ‘Pictures Generation’ and 1980s art. Longo often presents subjects at their maximum potential energy: roses bursting into bloom, waves surging up in all their brutal force.
The artist’s mural-size charcoal drawings are rendered with razor-sharp precision, the process is lengthy and meticulous. Longo invests found imagery with time, scale and substance, as if to suggest that each and every image he chooses is of global historical importance. In the monumen- tal Untitled (Ukrainian SU-27) from The Destroyer Cycle, Longo considers world events through the lens of American media: visualisations of power, war, violence and desperation that together create a searing portrait of our time.