Larry Stanton lived and painted in Manhattan until he died of AIDS at the age of 37 in 1984. His best work came from the short period beginning in 1981, after he recovered from a psychotic episode for which he was briefly institutionalized, and in which alcohol and the death of his mother played a significant role. When he returned to his work, he found in it a new commitment that became all engrossing. In NYC’s Greenwich Village, he became a familiar sight, starting every day in the early afternoon, drinking coffee at the same spot while balancing his sketchbook and drawing someone who caught his eye. His studio developed into a gathering place for artists and writers, enticed by his charm, his looks, and the work he was doing. They, his friends, and his family became subjects for his portraits. But it was the boys he encountered in his nocturnal expeditions that became the main focus for his art.
In the late '70s and early '80s, NYC was a magnet for boys who came here from all over the country. Many were escaping from homes and places where being gay was not accepted. Larry's looks and personality made him attractive to numbers of these boys. In turn, they became willing models. His work provides a telling picture of faces from a segment of NYC life which shortly disappeared with the advent of AIDS, an epidemic that annihilated so many of these faces, including Larry's himself.