The Death of American Spirituality, by David Wojnarowicz, 1987

David Wojnarowicz The Death of American Spirituality, 1987

Medium: Mixed media on plywood
Dimensions: 81 x 88 in. (205.7 x 223.5 cm)
Credit Line: Collection of John Carlin and Renée Dossick. Image courtesy of the Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P·P·O·W Gallery, New York

David Wojnarowicz's life experiences—his early history of abuse, hustling, and drugs; his euphoric queerness; and his and his friends' fatal struggles with AIDS—furnish the conditions of his artistic production. Identifying with the communities from the decrepit piers and underground East Village sites that he frequented, Wojnarowicz found in the personal and the social weapons to attack the dominant paradigms of a nation in the throes of the culture wars. Like much of his oeuvre, this work merges imagery from pop culture, history, and dreams to assemble distinctive narratives and historical allegories. The resulting surreal composition points to and demands accountability from cultural conventions and egregious political actors—like American notions of "progress" and the participants in the Iran-Contra affair—in a chronicle of the wreckage of contemporary American society.

 

Chicago Manual of Style
citation for this page
"The Death of American Spirituality." Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology Digital Archive. Los Angeles: Hammer Museum, 2017. https://​hammer.ucla.edu/​take-it-or-leave-it/​art/​the-death-of-american-spirituality/​.