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Jesús "Bubu" Negrón

The Back Portrait

July 2017 – July 2017

On the High Line at 17th Street

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Thursday, July 27, 2017
2 – 7 PM

Jesús “Bubu” Negrón creates sculptures and performances by inserting small gestures into the everyday landscape: for example, creating a carpet out of cigarette butts collected by street sweepers, or mending a cracking bronze public sculpture with a plaster cast. Negrón is inspired by workers who are experts in one area — for example, street sketch artists, gardeners, and artisans — and sees their work not just as a paying job, but as a cultural practice. Negrón himself has worked among experts in these fields, blurring the lines between “artist” and “artisan,” and questioning art world traditions.

For the High Line, Negrón presents a new iteration of his project The Back Portrait, an ongoing drawing project wherein he draws the backs of willing visitors, and then gives the sitter the original drawing, keeping a photocopy for himself. Sitters are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis.

This work was conceived for the Fiesta de la Calle San Sebastián in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2000, where Negrón took on the role of a street sketch artist, but solely focusing on visitors’ backs. He sold each portrait on a sliding scale, depending on the financial situation of the participant. When the project travelled to Art Miami in 2002, The Back Portrait became Negrón’s act of rebellion within the art fair, displayed among high-priced, inaccessible artworks.

Organized by Cecilia Alemani, Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator, and Melanie Kress, High Line Art Associate Curator.

Artist bio

Jesús “Bubu” Negrón (b. 1975, Barceloneta, Puerto Rico) lives and works in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recent solo exhibitions have been presented internationally at venues including Embajada, San Juan (2016); Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella, Italy (2012); and with Creative Time, New York (2012). His work has been included in group exhibition at institutions including Instituto de Visión, Bogotá, Colombia (2016) and Travesía Cuatro, Madrid, Spain (2013). His work was also included in La Gran Bienal Tropical, San Juan (2016).


Major support for High Line Art comes from Donald R. Mullen, Jr. and The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston. Additional funding is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council and from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.