Date of Submission

Spring 2012

Academic Program

Art History

Project Advisor 1

Susan Merriam

Abstract/Artist's Statement

In this thesis I discuss work by photographer Jimmy DeSana created from 1972 until his death from AIDS in 1990. I grouped his career into three sections - 1972-1979, 1980-1984 and 1985-1990. I analyzed his artistic progression by discussing how he treated the human body in relation to different objects that were present in the photograph. In his early career he produced two publications, '101 Nudes' and 'Submission' which contained images of youthful nudes interacting with the suburban domestic landscape and engaging in S&M fetishism. Starting in 1980 he began to shoot his photographs in color and turned his bodies into sculptures and photographed their interaction with mundane household objects. After he was diagnosed with HIV in 1984, he turned to complete abstraction collaging older negatives to create bizarre object-images. Because DeSana's work has never been discussed in a thesis before, I conducted original research in the Jimmy DeSana Estate at the Fales Collection at Bobst Library, NYU and at the Jimmy DeSana Estate at Executor Laurie Simmons' home in Connecticut. I was granted access to images that were displayed at different exhibitions and also images that had never been seen by the public. I also conducted interviews with Laurie Simmons, paula Grief, Diego Cortez and David Byrne - members of the 'downtown scene' who were close with Jimmy DeSana during the late 1970s and 80s.

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