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Guide to the Jimmy De Sana Papers
1954-1997 (bulk 1977-1990)

Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
3rd Floor
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-2596

Fales Library and Special Collections

Collection processed by Juliet Jacobson, 2007 and Nicholas Martin, 2008 - 2009. Completed by Christine Woody, 2009.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 13, 2017

Biographical Note

Jimmy De Sana was born in Detroit on November 12, 1949, where he lived until his family relocated to Atlanta in 1955. De Sana studied art in high school and at the University of Georgia in Atlanta. In 1972, before moving to New York City, he published 101 Nudes, a lithographic portfolio. This first mature work, comprised of nude photographs of himself and his friends in suburban settings, introduced themes that remained important throughout his career.

De Sana's first exhibition took place in 1979 at the Stefanotti Gallery on West 57th Street. A visible figure in the East Village art scene of the 1970s and 1980s, he participated in the "Times Square Show", "New York/New Wave" and was a frequent contributor to FILE Magazine, SoHo News, the Village Voice, Bomb and New York Rocker. He self-published a book of photographs, Submission, in 1980, which includes an introduction by William S. Burroughs. Though his career lasted less than two decades, De Sana produced work in a variety of styles. He used unconventional processes and techniques including negative prints, double exposures, and vividly colored lighting.

At the time of his death, De Sana was working on a book of photographic collages, made largely in the darkroom, constructed of images of mundane household objects. The book, Salvation, remains incomplete. De Sana was represented by Pat Hearn Gallery from 1987 (posthumously) through 1997. De Sana died of AIDS in New York City in 1990. He was forty years old. His work continues to be shown internationally.


Bourdon, David. "Jimmy De Sana at Pat Hearn." Art in America, November, 1995