Mark Morrisroe (January 10, 1959 - July 24, 1989) was a performance artist and photographer. He is known for his performances and photographs, which were seminal in the development of the punk scene in Boston in the 70's and the art world boom of the mid to late 80's in NYC.
Early life and influences Edit
Born to a drug-addicted mother, Morrisroe left home and began hustling at the age of 15. His mother was a tenant of Albert DeSalvo, the 'Boston Strangler', and Mark often told people he was DeSalvo's illegitimate son. When he was 17 years old, one of his disgruntled clients shot him in the back, leaving him with a bullet lodged next to his spin for the rest of his life. The experience was a profound influence on Morrisroe's art, which often incorporated images of young prostitutes and X-rays of his injured chest.
Morrisroe attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he made friends with several soon to be well known artists, including Nan Goldin, David Armstrong. Pat Hearn and Philip-Lorca diCorcia. His boyfriend while he lived in Boston was Johnathan Pierson, who later changed his name to "Jack." He graduated from the Museum School with honors receiving the coveted "5th" Year" Award. While attending, he co-founded a zine, Dirt Magazine with his friend Lynelle White and performed as a drag character of his own creation named Sweet Raspberry.
Career in Photography Edit
His career as a photographer began when he was given a Polaroid Model 195 Land camera. He experimented with unusual development techniques, receiving generous support of supplies, film, and chemicals from the Polaroid Corporation. His photographs were primarily portraits, and his subjects included lovers, friends, hustlers, and people who visited his apartment. He also often incorporated stills from Super 8 films and comments he scrawled on the side of his pictures.
Morrisroe died in 1989 from complications of HIV. He is buried in McMinnville, OR on the farm of his last boyfriend, Ramsey McPhillips. His fame has increased steadily since his death. He is considered a member of the "Boston School" and his work is found in many important collections including that of the Whitney and MOCA of Los Angeles.
The estate of Mark Morrisroe (Collection Ringier) is currently located at the Fotomuseum Winterthur.