David Armstrong (photographer)

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David Bradley Armstrong (May 24, 1954 – October 26, 2014) was a photographer based in New York.

Personal life[edit]

Armstrong was born in 1954, in Arlington, Massachusetts, one of four sons of Robert and Irma Armstrong.[1] He graduated from the Satya Community School, an alternative high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he met Nan Goldin at the age of 14.[2] On October 26, 2014, at the age of 60, he died in Los Angeles, California due to liver cancer.[1]


Armstrong entered into the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston as a painting major, but soon switched to photography after studying alongside Goldin, with whom he shared an apartment.[1] He attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Cooper Union from 1974–78, and he earned a B.F.A from Tufts University in 1988 and Judy Ann Goldman Fine Art in Boston.[3]

During the late 1970s, Armstrong became associated with the "Boston School" of photography, which included artists such as Nan Goldin, Mark Morrisroe and Jack Pierson. Their aesthetic was based on intimate snapshot portraits in saturated color.[2]

Armstrong first received critical attention for his intimate portraits of men, either lovers or friends, in sharp focus.[4] In the nineties, he began to photograph cityscapes and landscapes in soft focus to contrast with the resolution of his portraits. Street lights, electric signs and cars are reduced to a sensual mottled blur, complementing the vividness and tactility of his portraits.[3]

In 1981, Armstrong created a series of black-and-white portraits which he showed at PS1's "New York/New Wave" exhibition. In 1996, Elisabeth Sussman, curator of photographs at the Whitney Museum, enlisted Armstrong's help in composing Nan Goldin’s first retrospective. She gained such respect for Armstrong’s eye, she acquired a few of his pieces for the Whitney permanent collection and he was subsequently featured in the Whitney 1994 biennial.[5]

Armstrong’s work has also appeared in publications such as Vogue Paris, L'Uomo Vogue, Arena Homme +, GQ, Self Service, Another Man and Japanese Vogue and he has worked on the advertising campaigns of companies such as Zegna, René Lezard, Kenneth Cole, Burberry, Puma, and Barbara Bui.[3] He once shot editorials for Wonderland, Vogue Hommes and Purple.[5]

Although his primary subjects include portraits of young boys and men, Armstrong also released a book of land and cityscapes in 2002, entitled “All Day, Every Day.” [2]


Armstrong first exhibited his work in 1977 and had one-person shows in New York, Boston, Berlin, Paris, Rome, Zurich, Düsseldorf, Lisbon, Munich, and Amsterdam. His work was included in numerous group museum exhibitions including "Visions from America: Photographs from The Whitney Museum of American Art, 1940-2001" in 2003, "Emotions and Relations" at the Hamburger Kunsthalle in 1998, and the 1995 Whitney Biennial.[6][7]

List of exhibitions (incomplete)[edit]

Some of David Armstrong's exhibitions are listed below:[8]


  • True Romance - Allegorien der Liebe von der Renaissance bis heute, Kunsthalle Wien (Halle 1, Halle 2 im MQ), Vienna



  • Your Picture on My Wall, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York[10]
  • Likeness: Portraits of Artists by Other Artists, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco [11]
  • Indigestible Correctness II, Kenny Schachter Gallery, New York[12]


  • David Armstrong: portraits and other works, early and recent, Galerie M + R Fricke, Düsseldorf[13]
  • Flesh Tones: 100 Years of the Nude, Robert Mann Gallery, New York[14]


  • City Light, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York[15]
  • David Armstrong: All Day Every Day, Scalo Galerie, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Visions from America. Photographs from the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1940-2001, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (catalogue ISBN 978-3791327877)
  • Recent Acquisitions, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas


  • Cityscapes and Landscapes, Galerie M+R Fricke, Düsseldorf[16]
  • Bang Street Gallery, Provincetown, Massachusetts
  • CITY: Prints and Photographs from the 30's through Today, Brooke Alexander, New York[17]
  • Places and People, L.A. Galerie Lothar Albrecht, Frankfurt
  • Building Dwelling Thinking, Judy Ann Goldman Fine Art, Boston
  • Tenth Anniversary Exhibition, 100 Drawings and Photographs, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York (catalogue ISBN 1-880146-34-7)


  • Joao Graça, Lisbon
  • Open Studio, Toronto
  • Photography in Boston: 1955 – 1985, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts (catalogue ISBN 0262122294)
  • New Editions, Marlborough Graphics, New York
  • Faces, Bang Street Gallery, Provincetown, Massachusetts


  • New Photographs, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York[18]
  • Scalo New York, New York
  • Galerie Fricke, Berlin
  • Judy Goldman Fine Art, Boston
  • Bang Street Gallery, Provincetown, Massachusetts


  • Emotions and Relations, Hamburger Kunsthalle Hamburg, Germany
  • Gallerie Barbara Farber/Rob Jurka Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Ugo Ferranti Rome, Italy


  • The Silver Cord, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York[19]


  • Landscapes, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York[20]


  • A Double Life, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York[21]


  • David Armstrong and Nan Goldin. A Double Life Scalo, 1994.
  • David Armstrong: The Silver Cord, Scalo, 1997.
  • David Armstrong: All Day Every Day Scalo, 2002.
  • David Armstrong: 615 Jefferson Ave, Damiani, 2011.
  • David Armstrong: "Night and Day", Morel, 2012.
  • David Armstrong: "Polaroids", Morel, 2015.


  1. ^ a b c Paul Vitello (October 31, 2014), David Armstrong, Photographer of Subcultures, Dies at 60 New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-harris/homework-photographer-dav_b_1142479.html Interview with David Armstrong, April 12, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c http://www.jedroot.com/photogr/da/armstrong-bio.php JedRoot, David Armstrong, April 12, 2012.
  4. ^ David Armstrong, "The Silver Cord", (New York: Scalo, 1997)
  5. ^ a b Van Meter, William (2012-04-12). "A Portraitist's Eye Gazes on Fashion". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-01-19. 
  6. ^ David Armstrong Matthew Marks Gallery, New York/Los Angeles.
  7. ^ Whitney Biennial, (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1995)
  8. ^ http://www.artnet.com/galleries/clampart/artist-david-armstrong/
  9. ^ https://christopheguye.com/exhibitions/some-tribes/introduction
  10. ^ http://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2004-01-16_david-armstrong/
  11. ^ http://archive.wattis.org/exhibitions/likeness-portraits-artists-other-artists
  12. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/23/arts/art-in-review-indigestible-correctness.html?_r=0
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/21/arts/art-in-review-flesh-tones-100-years-of-the-nude.html
  15. ^ http://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2002-01-12_david-armstrong/
  16. ^ http://www.galeriefricke.de/news/duesseldorf.htm
  17. ^ http://www.baeditions.com/installation-views/city-installation.htm
  18. ^ http://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/1999-09-24_david-armstrong/
  19. ^ http://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/1997-04-03_david-armstrong/
  20. ^ http://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/1995-03-16_david-armstrong/
  21. ^ http://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/1993-12-08_nan-goldin-and-david-armstrong/