Mark Morrisroe was born in Malden, Massachusetts, north of Boston, and grew up in the area before attending the prestigious School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where he first met such artists as Doug and Mike Starn and Gail Thacker, and was inspired by older photographers such as Nan Goldin and David Armstrong. It was there that Morrisroe befriended fellow student Pat Hearn, and the two spent a summer together in Provincetown in 1980. By early 1983 Hearn moved to New York City where she established her eponymous gallery in the East Village and began selling Morrisroe’s work. ClampArt’s exhibition is comprised primarily of photographs acquired directly from Hearn before her untimely death at age forty-five in 2000. Hearn was well-known and widely respected for her close relationships with and championing of young artists, and she carefully advised her clients on specifically which artworks to collect. Hearn and Morrisroe were close until his own untimely death at the age of thirty in 1989; and after that, Hearn served as the executrix of the artist’s estate and went on to mount a series of memorial shows in 1994, 1996, and 1999. Hearn appears in many of Morrisroe’s best-known photographs (a couple of which are included in the current exhibition).
Critic Brooks Adams writes: “Role-playing and gender-bending youths—artists and others—populate Morrisroe’s photographs: 20-somethings getting naked, donning high heels and wigs, trying on identities. This is the culturally specific world of Boston in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s when high punk ruled and Morrisroe and his friends. . .were cutting up, living on the edge and documenting each other’s every move.”