The present Study of Dave lithograph belongs to Robert Longo’s iconic Men in the Cities (1983), a Portfolio of large-scale charcoal drawings of sharply dressed businesspeople writhing in contortion under the impact of an invisible, violent power, a sort of death dance of the modern man. This series, which marked the artist´s burst into the New York art scene as a brash 25-year-old, eventually made Robert Longo famous in the early 1980s.
Longo first appropriated images from magazines, newspapers, and movie still frames. Later, Longo began to use his friends as models, most of them were figures in the art world or in the arts in general. He would bring them up on the roof of his New York City loft, rig up ropes to them, throw rubber balls, rocks, and other objects at them to make them jerk, fling or fall – and then take their picture. Longo works and reworks his charcoal into thick-textured surfaces, giving his velvety drawings deep, blackened expanses and sharply contrasting whites; his forms are at once representational and softly elusive. Having been fascinated with popular culture as a child, Longo centers his practice on transposing images and the resulting transformation of meaning creates powerful icons that, as Longo said, "exist somewhere between movies and monuments".
“I know that people see these as stylistically Punk or New Wave, but at the time they were also viewed as Wall Street types. I was trying to transcend style but they were Downtown types, which to me was both CBGB's and Wall Street.„