Synopses & Reviews
Lavishly illustrated with over 175 black-and-white and color images that range from high to popular culture and from Ancient Greece to contemporary America, Christopher Reed's arresting book reveals the deep linkages between art and homosexuality as we understand those terms.
This is the first book to fully explore the interdependence between the identity of the artist and the homosexual. It offers a bold, globe-spanning narrative that draws on artwork from all the important periods in the Western tradition, including classical, Renaissance, and contemporary, with special focus on the modern period. It was in the nineteenth century that the identities of the avant-garde artist and the homosexual took shape, and almost as quickly overlapped. The figures involved--Ingres, Courbet, Wilde, Whitman--are among that era's most iconic artists. The development of twentieth-century art--exemplified in the work of figures like Gertrude Stein, Jasper Johns, David Hockney, and David Wojnarowicz--this book argues is simply not understandable apart from the concurrent development of ideas about sexual identity. This highly readable volume challenges the ideas of many prominent art critics and punctures the platitudes surrounding discussions of both art and sexuality. The book discusses what it means to be an insider and outsider, how sexuality came to define one's fundamental humanity, and what people risk (and gain) in rejecting economic and social conformity.
Reed shows that many of the core ideas that define modern thought more generally are nearly indecipherable without an understanding of this pairing. The debates that have surrounded artists and homosexuals in effect capture the dramatic history of the evolution of the modern mind.
This bold, globe-spanning survey is the first book to thoroughly explore the radical, long-standing interdependence between art and homosexuality. It draws examples from the full range of the Western tradition, including classical, Renaissance, and contemporary art, with special focus on the modern era. It was in the modern period, when arguments about homosexuality and the avant-garde were especially public, that our current conception of the artist and the homosexual began to take shape, and almost as quickly to overlap. Not a chronology of gay or lesbian artists, the book is a fascinating and sophisticated account of the ways two conspicuous identities have fundamentally informed one another. Art and Homosexuality discusses many of modernism's canonical figures--painters like Courbet, Picasso, and Pollock; writers like Whitman and Stein--and issues, such as the rise of abstraction, the avant-garde's relationship to its patrons and the political exploitation of art. It shows that many of the core ideas that define modernism are nearly indecipherable without an understanding of the paired identities of artist and homosexual. Illustrated with over 175 b/w and color images that range from high to popular culture and from Ancient Greece to contemporary America, Art and Homosexuality punctures the platitudes surrounding discussions of both aesthetics and sexual identity and takes our understanding of each in stimulating new directions.
About the Author
is Associate Professor of English and Visual Culture at Pennsylvania State University. His previous books include Not at Home: The Suppression of Domesticity in Modern Art and Architecture
and Bloomsbury Rooms: Modernism, Subculture, and Domesticity
, winner of a 2005 Historians of British Art prize.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1. VARIETIES OF 'HOMOSEXUALITY'; VARIETIES OF 'ART'
· INITIATORY HOMOSEXUALITY: THE 'SAMBIA' OF NEW GUINEA and ANCIENT GREECE AND ROME
· GENDER-TRANSCENDENT HOMOSEXUALITY: POLYNESIA and NORTH AMERICA
· PERFORMATIVE HOMOSEXUALITY: TOKUGAWA JAPAN
CHAPTER 2. BEFORE MODERNITY
· EARLY CHRISTIAN AND MEDIEVAL EUROPE
· THE RENAISSANCE
· 17TH- AND 18TH-CENTURY EUROPE
CHAPTER 3. INVENTING THE MODERN: ART AND SEXUAL IDENTITY IN THE LATE- NINETEENTH CENTURY
· IMAGERY AT MID-CENTURY
· INVENTING THE AVANT-GARDE
· ARTISTS AT MID-CENTURY
· THE MODERN ARTIST AS HOMOSEXUAL
· AESTHETES AND ART JOURNALS
CHAPTER 4. SECRETS AND SUBCULTURES, 1900-1940
· ECHOES OF AESTHETICISM
· AVANT-GARDE CONTINGENTS
· SEXUALITY AND RACE
· STRATEGIES OF CODING: ABSTRACTION AND SYMBOLS
· THE LIMITS OF THE AVANT-GARDE
· THE AVANT-GARDE AND THE OPEN SECRET
· THE OPEN SECRET AND MASS CULTURE
CHAPTER 5. THE SHORT TRIUMPH OF THE MODERN: 1940-1965
· EXPRESSION AND REPRESSION IN POST-WAR ART
· POPULAR IMAGERY, POP ART, AND THE ORIGINS OF POSTMODERNISM
· CAMP AND CRITICISM
CHAPTER 6. THE AVANT-GARDE AND ACTIVISM: 1965-1982
· ART VS. POLITICS
· FEMINISTS, LESBIANS, AND FEMALE SENSIBILITY
· IDENTITY AND SENSIBILITY
CHAPTER 7. THE AIDS DECADE: 1982-1992
· AIDS AND THE AVANT-GARDE
· AIDS, ACTIVISM, AND VISUAL CULTURE
· HOMOPHOBIA AND VISUAL CULTURE
CHAPTER 8. QUEER AND BEYOND
· FRAGMENTATION FROM WITHIN
· PRESSURE FROM WITHOUT
· WORKING THROUGH DIFFERENCE: THE BLACK MALE NUDE
BIBLIOGRAPHY and NOTES