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Boston  |  USA  | 

Letters to Pia

Having been given the chance to acquire intimate images of Morrisroe’s muse, Pia Howard, Boston-based collector Adam Larson speaks to IC about his relationship with the following photographs, and of course about Pia.

“In 1995, I saw an exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston titled The Boston School which focused on the works of six artists living and working in Boston in the late 70s-early 80s including Mark Morrisroe, Jack Pierson, David Armstrong, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Nan Goldin, Tabboo! and Shellburne Thurber. Collectively, their work redefined traditional notions of portraiture as they turned their cameras on each other producing a new aesthetic that was part documentary and part autobiographical. Their snapshot approach captured intimate and often raw moments of their relationships with each other, their friends, families, lovers, and various subcultures they were part of. That show had a great impact on me as an aspiring artist, and triggered what would become an extreme love for this genre of photography and this group of artists in particular.

In 2008 I met a woman by the name of Pia Howard at an event I was speaking at at Boston University. She radiated with a vibrant youthful energy, a distinct sense of style and the brightest smile. We clicked immediately and a friendship was born. A few weeks later I received a call from Pia asking if I would be interested in buying some photographs she was looking to sell. Intrigued, I went to her apartment to see the work and my mind was blown.

It turns out Pia was part of the gang. She too was a Boston girl and met Mark Morrisroe and Jack Pierson through the punk scene that was evolving in Boston in the 80’s. She lived with Mark during that time and became one of his muses, starring in his most well known film titled “Nymphomaniac”, as well as countless photographs. Over the years, she had amassed a personal collection of snapshots, letters, postcards, and artworks through her relationships with this dynamic circle of individuals.

Pia was very aware of how influential Mark was on this group of artists and because he died so young, how important preserving his work was. She was at a point where she could no longer properly care for her collection and wanted to make sure it was in the hands of someone who could. As we shared our stories that day she knew she had found the right person to look after the works, and I willingly accepted.

This exhibit provides a glimpse into the lives of these individuals and their relationships. It consists of excerpts of the larger collection accompanied by additional works that I have acquired by the same artists.”

MARK MORRISROE, Pia in the Tub. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Pia in the Tub. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Pia in the Tub. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Pia in the Tub. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Pia.
Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Pia. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Pia.
Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Pia. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Handwritten letter to Pia from Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Handwritten letter to Pia from Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Handwritten letter to Pia from Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Handwritten letter to Pia from Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Handwritten letter to Pia from Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Handwritten letter to Pia from Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Handwritten letter to Pia from Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Handwritten letter to Pia from Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Handwritten letter to Pia from Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Handwritten letter to Pia from Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Handwritten letter to Pia from Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Handwritten letter to Pia from Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Photo of Pia. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Photo of Pia. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Mark Morrisroe signed invitation to 1988 show addressed to Pia. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Mark Morrisroe signed invitation to 1988 show addressed to Pia. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Jack Pierson in bed. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Jack Pierson in bed. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
JACK PIERSON, Charlie, 1998. Courtesy Adam Larson
JACK PIERSON, Charlie, 1998. Courtesy Adam Larson
JACK PIERSON, From Every Single One of Them. Courtesy Adam Larson
JACK PIERSON, From Every Single One of Them. Courtesy Adam Larson
JACK PIERSON, For Peter, 1998. Courtesy Adam Larson
JACK PIERSON, For Peter, 1998. Courtesy Adam Larson
JACK PIERSON, Pia in Mirror. Courtesy Adam Larson
JACK PIERSON, Pia in Mirror. Courtesy Adam Larson
JACK PIERSON, Hand-Painted Postcard. Courtesy Adam Larson
JACK PIERSON, Hand-Painted Postcard. Courtesy Adam Larson
JACK PIERSON, Slow, 2009. Courtesy Adam Larson
JACK PIERSON, Slow, 2009. Courtesy Adam Larson
NAN GOLDIN, Jen's hand on Clemen's back, Paris, 2001. Courtesy Adam Larson
NAN GOLDIN, Jen's hand on Clemen's back, Paris, 2001. Courtesy Adam Larson
MARK MORRISROE, Photographic Print with hand lettering. TEXT READS:
MARK MORRISROE, Photographic Print with hand lettering. TEXT READS: "to pia on christmas 1987" Morrisroe 85 John Stefenelli (Baby) Artist Proof. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Nathan Shapiro, Age 17.
Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Nathan Shapiro, Age 17. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
DAVID ARMSTRONG, Christopher Wool, Elizabeth Street, NYC, 1980. Courtesy Adam Larson
DAVID ARMSTRONG, Christopher Wool, Elizabeth Street, NYC, 1980. Courtesy Adam Larson
MARK MORRISROE, Self Portrait in Paris 1981 by Lesbian Jailbate, © 1984.
Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Self Portrait in Paris 1981 by Lesbian Jailbate, © 1984. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Typed letter from Ramsey McPhillips to Pia. Courtesy Adam Larson
Typed letter from Ramsey McPhillips to Pia. Courtesy Adam Larson
Typed letter from Ramsey McPhillips to Pia. Courtesy Adam Larson
Typed letter from Ramsey McPhillips to Pia. Courtesy Adam Larson
JACK PIERSON, Portrait of John Stefanelli. Courtesy Adam Larson
JACK PIERSON, Portrait of John Stefanelli. Courtesy Adam Larson
Photobooth photo of Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Photobooth photo of Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MIKE STARN, Untitled. Courtesy Adam Larson
MIKE STARN, Untitled. Courtesy Adam Larson
MARK MORRISROE,  The Clam Twins. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, The Clam Twins. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MIKE STARN, Hand-written note to Pia. Courtesy Adam Larson
MIKE STARN, Hand-written note to Pia. Courtesy Adam Larson
Snapshot of Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Snapshot of Mark Morrisroe. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Promo shot for the film Nymphomaniac featuring Jack Pierson, Pia Howard and Nathan Shapiro.
Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
MARK MORRISROE, Promo shot for the film Nymphomaniac featuring Jack Pierson, Pia Howard and Nathan Shapiro. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Snapshot of Mark and Pia.
Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Snapshot of Mark and Pia. Courtesy Adam Larson, © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur