Jimmy DeSana

b. 1949 — d. 1990

The Estate of Jimmy DeSana

My dear, it’s all so Christian and medieval and gloomy. Precisely. Jimmy DeSana, your intrepid photographer, has witnessed and preserved for posterity the unspeakable rights of these benighted natives, rites as clearly derived from Christianity as a black mass — William Burroughs, 1979



The Sodomite Invasion
Griffin Art Project

Estate of Jimmy DeSana

Pioneer Works

Estate of Jimmy DeSana

Group Show
Salon 94 Bowery

Still Lives: Jimmy Desana and Hanna Liden

Party Picks
Salon 94 Bowery

Estate of Jimmy DeSana


Jimmy DeSana, Aluminum Foil #4, 1985

Jimmy DeSana (1949-1990) was a photographer whose induction into New York’s East Village scene in the early 1970s would prove monumental to the aesthetic storytelling of that significant moment of the City’s history. DeSana’s staged images of the human body contorted and in motion—as well as his many portraits of such cultural icons as Yoko Ono, John Giorno, David Byrne, and Debbie Harry—captured the defining avant-garde spirit of that moment. In black and white silver gelatin prints, the artist’s self-published book, Submission (1979), explored the ambiguous nature of the BDSM subculture, while other series present colorful images of the artist and his friends posing faceless and writhing in various domestic spaces. When the artist passed away in 1990, he left his estate to the photographer and filmmaker Laurie Simmons, another artist represented by Salon 94, who continues to advocate for DeSana today. While the artist was exhibited widely during his lifetime, the last decades of exhibitions and scholarship have firmly cemented DeSana in the canon of contemporary art.

Recent solo and group exhibitions include Ray Johnson: WHAT A DUMP at David Zwirner, New York (NY) in 2021; All of Them Witches at Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles (CA) in 2020; The Sodomite Invasion: Experimentation, Politics and Sexuality in the work of Jimmy DeSana and Marlon T. Riggs at Griffin Art Projects, Vancouver (CA) in 2020; Jimmy DeSana and the Sex Appeal of the Inorganic at Amanda Wilkinson Gallery, London (UK) in 2019; Art after Stonewall, 1969 – 1989 at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York (NY) in 2019; Jimmy DeSana at xavierlaboulbenne, Berlin (DE) in 2016; Performing for the Camera at the Tate Modern, London (UK) in 2016; and Remainders at Pioneer Works, Brooklyn (NY) in 2016.

DeSana’s work is included in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum (NY); the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (MA); the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York (NY); the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (NY); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (IL); the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (TX); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (NY); and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (NY), among others.



Bryan Barcena


Surreal Sexuality
William J. Simmons


Revisiting an Artist’s Provocative Photographs
Martha Schwendener

The New York Times

Jimmy DeSana Gives Suburban Sprawl a Sexy New Meaning
Cait Munro

Artnet News

Jimmy De Sana
Beau Rutland


Fourteen: Purple Visual Essay
Jimmy De Sana

Purple Magazine

Jimmy De Sana
Anne Doran

Art in America

Jimmy De Sana at Pat Hearn - New York, New York - Review of Exhibitions - Brief Article
David Bourdon

Art in America

The Provocative Work of an Abbreviated Life
Charles Hagen

The New York Times

Jimmy De Sana at Pat Hearn by Roberta Smith
Roberta Smith

The New York Times

Submission: Jimmy De Sana
William S. Burroughs

Scat Publications New York