History is a Nightclub: Downtown AREA, NYC, 1983-87 - Peter Harrington Blog

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History is a Nightclub: Downtown AREA, NYC, 1983-87

An Exhibition of Never-Before-Seen Photography by Ben Buchanan

Peter Harrington, 43 Dover Street, 3rd – 31st October

We are pleased to announce that we will shortly be exhibiting a series of remarkable and previously unseen photographs depicting a pivotal moment in the history of modern art: the Downtown club scene in 1980s New York. These candid images of of Basquiat, Warhol, Haring and Hockney at play – alongside celebrity friends such as Tom Waits, The Beastie Boys, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Grace Jones – were taken by Ben Buchanan during his time working as in-house photographer for the legendary Area nightclub.

“I had turned up at AREA looking for a job,” says Buchanan, “and they gave me a camera I had no idea how to use and they told me to point it at anything interesting.”

“It was the club that everyone wanted to get into – even the invitations to each theme were inventive and covetable, while the decorations were often brought in from movie sets.”

Re-imagining itself every few months and often appealing to its artist patrons for help in the redecorations, Area was a hub for luminaries of the art, fashion and media world. Grace Jones can be seen posing with a stuffed lion on her brithday, during the club’s Natural History incarnation, while Jean-Michel Basquiat – whose work is currently enjoying its first full-scale UK exhibition at the Barbican – is seen variously DJ-ing, embracing Andy Warhol and painting a canvas. “They were always creating something, even when they were relaxing,” says Buchanan.

All the photographs on display will be signed limited edition prints annotated by the photographer, and will be offered for sale by Peter Harrington from the 3rd October onward.

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