The Hallmark Art Collection includes David Wojnarowicz’s painting Biography of Peter Hujar (7 Miles a Second), 1988–89.
This work of acrylic, spray paint, and collage on canvas depicts photographer Peter Hujar, who died in 1987 of complications related to AIDS.
The Hallmark Collection’s curators explain: “This painting was created in tribute to Wojnarowicz’s close friend and mentor, the photographer Peter Hujar … seen surrounded by fantastic images—much like microscopic views—depicting a compressed history of time on earth, from the primordial era to the industrial age. These visual fragments echo the way Hujar consciously revised his own biography to disrupt any preconceived notions about him or his work. At the center of the composition is the glowing equation for “escape velocity,” the speed at which a particle or mass must travel to break free of the earth’s gravitational pull, a poignant metaphor for Hujar’s untimely death.”
At the time that he created this work, David knew that he, too, was HIV positive. The curators write, “The diagnosis gave impetus to his increased activism and several more years of feverish creativity, much of which was driven by his outrage at the failure of political and cultural leaders to address the AIDS pandemic.”
The Hallmark Art Collection is frequently on view at Hallmark corporate headquarters, in Kansas City, Missouri, and is loaned to institutions worldwide.