“What I had hoped to do from the beginning was to complicate the narratives that we have about the art that was made in New York in the 1970s and about the political developments of the gay scene and public sexual culture in that period of time….The queer world and art world complicate each other, but also the anecdotal voice complicates the critical voice.” — Douglas Crimp, on BEFORE PICTURES*

Pictures—the exhibition Douglas Crimp curated at Artists Space in 1977—launched Robert Longo, Troy Brauntuch, Sherrie Levine, Jack Goldstein, and Philip Smith, and laid the groundwork for the 2009 Met survey The Pictures Generation.

As the managing editor of October from 1977 to 1989, Crimp edited a special issue on AIDS for the journal in 1987. He is the author of “Our Kind of Movie”: The Films of AndyWarhol (2012 ), and last year he published BEFORE PICTURES, a beautifully written, extensively illustrated memoir of his life as a New York art critic and man about town in the 1960s and 70s.

BEFORE PICTURES is a strange and shimmering chimera: Part memoir, part theory, it swerves and circles, often paragraph to paragraph, from anecdote to argument and back again, a graceful, unfussy waltz that sometimes seduces you into thinking that it’s ‘simply’ autobiography. But the writing is also a performance of the necessary entanglement between serious thought and its ‘decor’—an entanglement that fascinates Crimp, and that makes him such an exceptional protagonist.” — David Velasco**


DOUGLAS CRIMP—BEFORE PICTURES (Brooklyn: Dancing Foxes Press/Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Available at Skylight Books in Los Feliz, and Book Soup in West Hollywood.


*Sarah Cowan, “Before Pictures: An Interview with Douglas Crimp,” The Paris Review, November 8, 2016:

**David Velasco, “Douglas Crimp’s Before Pictures,” Artforum, March 2017.

Above: Douglas Crimp, circa 1971, at the Guggenheim in New York, photographer unknown. Image credit: Douglas CrimpBefore Pictures.

Below: Cover photo, Zoe Leonard, Downtown (for Douglas), 2016.


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