Monday, October 8, 2018

David Wojnarowicz' "History Keeps Me Awake at Night"

“History Keeps Me Awake at Night” features David Wojnarowicz’s work. He was a New York based artist who died at age 37 of HIV related complications and his works included photography, painting, music, film, sculpture, writing, performance and activism.
Wojnarowicz dives into topics such as politics, love, philosophy, and beauty. His collages at his Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition consist of stunning, vibrant flowers, sensitively written commentary and powerful black and white images of illness and death while an American flag gives the viewer context. Noting the dates of these pieces to be from 1990 (in the heart of the Aids epidemic), and the fact that Wojnarowicz was gay, his work during this period appears to relate to the hardships and struggles of the AIDS epidemic. There seem to be stark contrasts within his four large-scale paintings of exotic flowers in that they combine three quite separate ideas of grimness, contemplation and hope. He depicts objects of beauty through his paintings to remind the viewer that beauty must persist through difficult times, for the sake of hope. He expresses his understanding of cultural issues such as how Americans Can’t Deal with Death through eloquent commentary and he exposes harsh realities, the apparent darkness of the times, in black and white images. Wojnarowicz uses this contrast as a sign of the time.


  1. Your analysis is strong and comprehensive. I like how you carefully observed through the show, how you depict the wide range of works done by the artist and how you came up with your own personal thoughts and opinions on them. However, it would be better to talk about one specific artwork instead of giving board information about the show, it would made your opinions stronger and more powerful.

  2. This show was very interesting! I really appreciate that you mentioned how extensive Wojnarowicz’ body of work is. Walking through the exhibition, I was extremely impressed by the amount of work and the variety of techniques the artist could explore in such a small amount of time. However, I wish you would have singled out one of his artworks to give a more detailed visual description and understanding of his work. While I appreciate that you described the artist’s background and his connection to the social issues of his time, I am wondering whether you could elaborate more in-depth on the “three quite separate ideas” that you are talking about. It might also be interesting to mention, that the artist often used himself as a subject in his artworks to express his opinions.