Neal Baer Collection

Jimmy Wright

NYC Subway Toilet Series #7


Ink on paper

5 x 8 in / 12.70 x 20.32 cm

Image courtesy of the artist and Fierman, New York

Jimmy Wright (b. 1944, Kentucky) studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and became friends with the False Image group, including Philip Hanson, Christina Ramberg and Roger Brown. His early work was lost in a fire in 1970. Wright settled in New York in 1974 and started making pastels and drawings of the city’s gay life in bathhouses, bathrooms, and bars until about 1976. This work is from a series depicting homosexual encounters in public restrooms. Comic and explicit, these drawings bring out playful and theatrical aspects of a socially taboo and secretive activity. The depiction of cruising in public spaces resonates with Tom Burr’s work, such as The Diana Ross Playground (1993).

[H]is casually explicit depictions of gay nightlife—cruising, public sex, and socializing in clubs, bathrooms, and bathhouses, speak to a bygone era of downtown subculture. “This is the world of the Weimar Republic,” the artist has said of the post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS moment he represents here. “Too rich visually not to record.” … Wright deploys various strains of punk-inflected, cartoony, or wry juvenile figuration—his characters are sketchy, simplified, even clumsy sometimes… There’s a profound political dimension in being—as Wright’s friend, the writer and curator Bruce Kurtz, who died of AIDS-related complications in 2003, half-jokingly called him—the “gay Toulouse-Lautrec.”

Johanna Fateman, Artforum Critic’s Picks: “Jimmy Wright at Fierman,” February 2017




“Jimmy and Christopher,” FIERMAN, New York, February 15 – March 24, 2024

Other works by Jimmy Wright

The Rooms: Everard (1975)

Sunflower Memento Mori No. 11 and 14 (1993-95)

See also

Jimmy Wright in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jimmy Wright in the collection of the Whitney Museum of Art

“Jimmy Wright: Flowers for Ken” at FIERMAN, September 7 – October 23, 2022

Johanna Fateman, “Goings About Town: Jimmy Wright”, The New Yorker

Jimmy Wright at Corbett vs. Dempsey

Jimmy Wright at FIERMAN