Salvation is a previously-unpublished artist book by Jimmy DeSana that he conceptualized shortly before his death in 1990. The publication contains 44 of the artist’s late photographic abstractions that quietly and poetically meditate on loss, death, and nothingness. Depicted within the works are images of relics, body parts, flowers, and fruits that DeSana altered using collage and darkroom manipulations to create pictures that are both intimate and other-worldly. Salvation provides a nuanced and sophisticated counterpoint to the prevailing work around HIV/AIDS at the time, which tended to favor bold political statements.
Variations of many of the works in this book were first presented at DeSana’s last show with Pat Hearn Gallery in 1988. Shortly thereafter, the artist began assembling a maquette of Salvation, using black and white images as place holders for the color works that he intended to comprise the final layout of the publication. Sadly, he was unable to fully realize Salvation in his lifetime, but on his deathbed, he dictated instructions to his longtime friend Laurie Simmons for completing the work; instructions which she noted on each page of the single-copy maquette. With these notes, Simmons was able to match extant slides and color gels from DeSana’s archive to the corresponding black and white images in the assembly of this publication. Thankfully, due to her recuperative work, Salvation—long-considered to be DeSana’s last major work—is now available for the first time.
Jimmy DeSana (1949-1990) grew up in Atlanta, GA, and received his bachelor’s degree from the Georgia State University in 1972 before relocating to New York’s East Village in the early 1970s. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include The Sodomite Invasion: Experimentation, Politics and Sexuality in the work of Jimmy DeSana and Marlon T. Riggs, Griffin Art Projects, Vancouver, Canada, 2020, and Remainders, Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY, 2016. DeSana’s work can be found in numerous public collections including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, among others. A major retrospective of DeSana’s work was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, New York, in early 2023, accompanied by a catalogue co-published by the Brooklyn Museum and DelMonico Books.
8.5 x 10.5 inches
Edition of 2000
Editor: James Hoff
Designer: Rick Myers