Larry Stanton (1947 – 1984)

Larry Stanton was a portraitist. Skill in portraiture is an instinct. It cannot be taught (the only “method” it can have is a dreary measurement, but even that without instinct is not very interesting.)

The portraitist is an observer of people. His attitudes and feelings will be reflected in his observations, and usually the interest in personality makes one study faces, – other aspects of personality show in the body, posture, ways of moving etc. – but most is revealed in face. People make their own faces, and Larry knew this instinctively.

David Hockney, in the essay he wrote for the 1986 book devoted to Larry Stanton’s drawings and painting.

As an art lover, I often listen to specialised podcasts. Two of my favourites are Dialogues, The David Zwirner Podcast, and Talk Art. I discovered plenty of art(its) through these. Recently, Talk Art spoke with Arthur Lambert, Larry’s former lover, now running his estate.

Larry died in New York in 1984. It doesn’t need a lot of investigation to realise that ‘death’, ‘New York’, ‘1984’ meant dying of AIDS. I was 19 that year, assuming my homosexuality but my hometown Gistel was far away, very far away from New York. Far away from arts and AIDS.

Stanton was a portraitist and his drawings and paintings are a sign of that era. Plenty of Intriguing men looking straight into Larry’s eyes, sex being subconsciously present. Many books by Edmund White and the like come to mind reading this catalogue.

The drawings are stunning; the story of his life is sad. But good there are survivors. Arthur Lambert the interviewee in the Talk Art podcast, but also David Hockney who was close to both Larry and Arthur. David Hockney is now 85, Arthur Lamber also in his eighties. What artwork would Larry have produced when he was still alive?

“Larry Stanton. Think of Me When it Thunders”, edited by Fabio Cherstich and Arthur Lamber, Apartment Publishing, 2022.

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