Luis Frangella (1944-1990) was a figurative, postmodern painter and sculptor. He earned a masters in architecture at the University of Buenos Aires in 1972 and then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973. In 1976, he moved to New York City where he painted huge “street” murals on construction site wall, abandoned Hudson River piers and in the nightclubs of the East Village and Tribeca. Situated in these nontraditional spaces, he began working with subversive artists like Wojnarowicz. Luis was a sort of father figure to many younger artists, becoming an influential member of the East Village art scene. Known as a good cook, he fostered a sense of community and caring, often serving impromptu meals in his loft after the late-night club scene wound down.
Writing in Art Forum (1985), John Howell proclaimed, “Luis Frangella is a classic junk artist. That is, he grafts the essence of classic art themes and techniques onto an anthology of urban debris used as support materials, thereby updating the past and historicizing the present.”
At the height of the AIDS epidemic Frangella was diagnosed with the disease and played an integral role in the ACT UP movement. Ostracized by his sexuality and state of health, Frangella embraced the marginalization he faced, applying it to their art and activism. Seriously incapacitated by his illness, Frangella was unable to remain involved for long, dying in 1990 at the age of 46.