Art is an attempt to try and understand our own contemporary situation through making images that are completely personal, while also addressing our social context. - Robert Longo

Robert Longo is an American photographer, sculptor, filmmaker and musician.


Longo was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1953 and raised in Long Island. His early influences were comic books and films. In 1970, he saw a photo of a former classmate shot and killed during Viet Nam War protests at Kent State. The photo led Longo to become an active protester and political activist.


Dyslexia made school difficult for Longo. He enrolled in North Texas State University, but left without a degree. The time was not wasted, though, because it was during that period that he decided to study art.


He received a grant in 1972 that allowed him to study Art History and Restoration in Florence. When he returned to the United States in 1973, he enrolled at the State University College in Buffalo. The experience was pivotal to his career. He learned about experimental filmmaking and organized shows with other artists, which led to the founding of the Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo, which is still in existence today. Longo graduated in 1975 with a degree in sculpture, but found that drawing on a large scale was more satisfying.


In 1977, Longo moved to New York with artist Cindy Sherman. He worked as a studio assistant for artists Vito Acconci and Dennis Oppenheim. He was part of a successful group show at Artists Space, which included a new generation of artists whose works were inspired by mass media. Between 1979 and 1982, Longo produced his Men in the Cities series, for which he is best known.


Longo formed a punk band and played guitar in a show he called Robert Longo's Menthol Wars. In the 1980s he directed music videos for R.E.M., The Replacements and other bands. In 1995 he directed the cyberpunk film Johnny Mnemonic, starring Keanu Reeves.


Longo lived with artist Cindy Sherman from 1974 to 1980, and with artist Gretchen Bender from 1981 to 1989. He married German actress Barbara Sukowa in 1994. The couple has three sons.


Longo’s works are in the permanent collections of MoMA, The Met, The Smithsonian, The Tate London and other major museums and galleries.


Robert Longo lives and works in New York.


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