David Wojnarowicz: "Broken Reagan"

David Wojnarowicz: "Broken Reagan"

Posted by Rich Colicchio on Dec 06, 2022

USA 51X 1984 exhibition featured installations by David Wojnarowicz, Futura 2000, Judy Rifka and Rich Colicchio. Each artist was given their own area in the gallery using USA as the theme

David painted a portrait of Ronald Reagen on glass and was the center point for his installation.

After the exhibit ended the Reagan piece as usually was hung in the backroom of 51X until picked up.

During the 51X years my girlfriend was Cindy, a eurasian, whose parents lived in the building. Her mother was Chinese and her father Russian, not a good mix to have I guess.

Cindy would go from being a Mugwi to a Gremlin at any given time, for no apparent reason. Her moments were well known among friends and artists.

One day she flew into a rage and violently slammed shut the backroom door. The heavy impact from closing shook  the Reagan portrait off the wall. Upon hitting the floor the painting on glass broke into fragments. 

I couldn't believe it and knowing that now I had to tell David what actually happened.

Shortly after that David stopped by 51X to pick up the piece. Explaining nervously I told him the story. He was very gracious and didn't get upset at all. I then showed him the only section saved and asked if he wanted it.

Knowing what he knew about Cindy he just looked at me and smiled and said "You can keep it as a memory, good or bad."

After that I decided to frame the  fragment of glass and rehang it in the same spot. The "Broken Reagen" was always a cherished part of 51X and over the years became a popular tale in its legacy.


"Broken Reagen" 5" x 9" oil on glass

51X Legacy Collection.

"USA 51X" 1984 Wojnarowicz Installation 51X Legacy Pic


- 51X