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Art and homosexuality : a history of ideas /

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This is the first book to fully explore the fascinating symbiosis that exists between art and homosexuality. It draws on examples that cover all the important periods in the Western art tradition, including classical, Renaissance, modern, and contemporary, but the bulk of the narrative takes place in the modern period. While manifestations of both same sex couplings and objects produced for aesthetic purposes can be traced going back to before ancient Greek civilization, it is only during the late nineteenth century that these concepts take on the meanings they carry today. The modern period saw arguments about artists and homosexuals become public, explicit, and heated, involving many of the iconic names of the day, including Ingres, Courbet, Wilde, and Whitman. The book explores how the development of new ideas about art and sexuality in the nineteenth century lead to notions of gay, lesbian, and avant-garde identities that became familiar in the twentieth, an account that includes with figures like Jasper Johns, David Hockney, and David Wojnarowicz, among many others.As the twin histories of art and homosexuality are explored, it becomes clear that the two ideas evolved and took hold in the public imagination in intimate affiliation. Both gays and artists are commonly seen as minority groups with special sensitivities and desires (indeed, being "artsy" has long been a euphemism for being gay), but the associations run much deeper. Many of the core delineations that define modern thought generally are nearly indecipherable without an understanding of this pairing. This book negotiates the cross currents of the debates surrounding art and homosexuality in a clear, unpretentious language that punctures conventional platitudes and highlights the importance of this dramatic history to the evolution of modernism. Illustrated with over 175 black & white and color images ranging from Western arts to other regional traditions, and from high culture to advertising and other forms of popular culture, Art and Homosexuality puts forward a compelling argument about the deep linkages between artists and homosexuals that reveals, among other thing, 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. After reading this book, one cannot help but see artists and homosexuals in a brilliant new light. Anyone who cares about either will find in it a provocative and indispensable resource.

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