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Painting by Robert Longo

What you see here are three paintings from a series called Men in the Cities (1979) by the artist Robert Longo.

Many remark that these men are dancing, but are they, really?

The first time I saw one of these paintings (the third one from the left) was on the set of the famous film American Psycho, specifically in Patrick Bateman’s apartment. Within the film’s context, I perceived the painting quite differently. The man isn’t dancing. He is falling, or more precisely trying not to fall. Such a perception is certainly influenced by Bateman’s character; perturbed and unbalanced; trying not to fall into the abyss of lust.

But does the man from the painting succeed? Is he still hanging on? If I continue to contextualize the meaning of Longo’s painting, I’d say he painted the man just before he falls therefore the man fails; falls. But if I was to objectively understand the painting, I wouldn’t know.

Maybe the man survives. Maybe the man falls. Maybe the man is…dancing