As it was conceived in antiquity, art represents reality, its evolutions, the glories of nature, feelings, and emotions.
As a representative of reality, art has often dealt with familiar scenes, mythological dramas, wonderful panoramas, has impressed (in canvas, marble or terracotta, silver, jewelry and fashion) moments of pleasure or pain, becoming more and more embellished following the evolution of human beings and their discoveries.
Art has become modern, think of Futurism first of all.
John William Waterhouse, Echo and Narcissus, 1903. (copyright)
It is interesting to realize how the evolution of art takes into account - in a declared way today - feelings, belongings, and how these are considered topics.
It was borning at the beginning of the last century, with other names and other modes, the Queer Art: works by artists more or less declaredly homosexual, which reflects the evolution of the LGBTQ+ world.
Claude Cahun, 1927. (Courtesy of the Jersey heritage collections)
In the early 20s, Claude Cahun took this self-portrait: the artist sits on a chair with her legs crossed, facing the viewer. Dressed as a weightlifter, Cahun holds a dumbbell on her lap. Nipples drawn on the long-sleeve top give the impression that Cahun is bare chested. Written across her shirt are the words: "I am in training. Don't kiss me”. This deliberately and playfully contradicts the lips drawn beneath the assertion, the hearts Cahun painted onto her leggings and cheeks, and her painted, puckered lips. Cahun’s expression is campy, playful, and her posture jaunty.
Francis Bacon’s Two Figures, 1953. Photograph: © The Estate of Francis Bacon. DACS/Artimage
Much of Bacon's work was based on people he met in the bars and clubs of London's Soho, an important locus for the queer community, and an area the artist called "the sexual gymnasium of the city”. Bacon was an openly gay man, and as a teenager he was thrown out of the family home when he was caught trying on his mother's underwear. His autobiographical paintings provided a space where he could exorcise his demons; his life was shrouded in sadness, and in 1971, his lover of eight years, George Dyer, committed suicide in their shared hotel room.
Jim and Tom, Sausalito, © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Mapplethorpe's photography depicts still lifes of flowers, celebrity and Royal Family portraiture, and pictures of children are well-loved, but his powerful and subversive images of homoerotic subjects are most notable in their power to dramatically alter perceptions and push boundaries. Mapplethorpe, fascinated by the male gaze on the male body, brought underground queer culture of the 1970s and 1980s to the public eye. He produced provocative male nudes, explicit sex scenes, and erotic portraits of leather-clad men in sadomasochistic scenarios.
David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (One Day This Kid…) ,1990 - © The Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York
A black and white image of the artist as a child looks out at the viewer. Smiling and innocent, the subject looks like any other ordinary child growing up in the 1960s. It is taken from a personal photo but blown up, newspaper-style, removing elements of intimacy and placing it within a political, public context. The figure is entirely surrounded by text that discusses the gay experience and the myriad ways society will attempt to oppress it. Statements that include "This kid will be faced with electro-shock, drugs and conditioning therapies in laboratories" paint a grim picture for the child's future. The words crowd him, filling the frame, oppressively at odds with the boy's youthful, optimistic expression.
Adam Chuck, Everybody say LOVE, 2017.
Adam Chuck is a queer artist working primarily in oil paint on mylar. His works are figurative and abstract, taking found photos - curated by amateur photographers and bloggers for the internet - and represents the imagery to a more formal audience. By rendering them in paint at an intimate scale, Adam takes these sometimes explicit or intimate moments and presents them like specimens or a small photo like a Polaroid, examining the way many humans present themselves on the internet. The final product is an intimate twist of classic expressionism and contemporary self-portraiture. The source images have already been well curated for the internet or perhaps lovers, but have all made it to the public realm of the world wide web. The works function together similar to a newsfeed on a social media site, and on their own are vignettes of different human experiences and stories woven together.
Untitled (Congrats! You Did It!), colored pencil on paper, 9x12”, 2020
Richmond (Virginia) based painter and photographer Scott Csoke was born in Rockville, Maryland in 1993. Having lived in four different states before the age of 14, self-reflection and inward thinking quickly became a way for him to understand his changing environments. Personal experiences are essential to both of his art practices and allow him to navigate both painting and photography. Deconstructing gay stereotypes and societal expectations are just a few of the themes he explores. Scott obtained a BFA in photography from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Felix d’Eon is enraptured by various art-historical styles such as Edwardian fashion and children’s book illustration, golden-era American comics, and Japanese Edo printmaking. In his work he attempts to make the illusion of antiquity complete, using antique papers and careful research as to costume, set, and style. His goal is perfect verisimilitude. He subverts their “wholesome” image and harnesses their style for a vision of gay love and sensibility. d’Eon treats vintage illustrative styles as a rhetorical strategy, using their language of romance, economic power, and aesthetic sensibility as a tool with which to tell stories of historically oppressed and marginalized queer communities. By painting images of queer love, seduction, sex, and romance, the gay subject is stripped of its taboo nature. Rather than focusing on the outlaw status of queer sexuality, d’Eon’s work seeks to normalize the marginal, and place the heretofore taboo subject at the center through the use of the rhetorical styles of the historically empowered and mainstream.