Issue Categories Archives: Art

A New York Century on Display

Gay Gotham admirably documents the contributions queer pioneers made to the visual arts, literature, dance, theater, music, and design during the 20th century, and how they helped shape the cultural landscape of New York and beyond. It’s something to be proud of, even if the exhibition is not a very “gay” affair.

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Postcards from the Fringe

CULTURAL TRANSFORMATIONS swept across this country in the mid-20th century, affecting every aspect of American life, including the arts. A new wave of outsider artists underscored the mood of restlessness through powerful photography and filmmaking.

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Eccentrics Abroad

The book presents more-or-less chronological biographical sketches of six artists who attempted to leave behind both their homeland and their cultural identity in order to become part of a radically different culture, one that allowed them to rework their sense of self.

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Bernard Perlin, an Artist of Many Milieux

The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Bernard Perlin was born in 1918 in Richmond, Virginia. He was sent to art school in New York at age fifteen and had early success as a muralist for Depression-era public works projects.

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Casa Finlandia

  Tom House: Tom of Finland in Los Angeles Edited by Michael Reynolds Rizzoli. 256 pages, $55.   IF THE NAME Touko Laaksonen doesn’t mean much to you, “Tom of Finland” probably does. It was under that name that Laaksonen (1920-1991) produced the thousands of homoerotic drawings, paintings, and other works that have made him famous. […]

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The Factory from the Inside

  Billy Name: The Silver Age: Black and White Photographs from Andy Warhol’s Factory Edited by Dagon James Reel Art Press. 448 pages, $75.     EVEN IF you don’t recognize the name, you are probably familiar with some of the images captured by photographer Billy Name. Certainly this is the case if you have […]

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Photographs That Set the Stage

Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera features more than eighty of Tseng’s large-format black-and-white landscape photographs, as well as color portraits of artists such as Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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The Gilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon

  Francis Bacon in Your Blood by Michael Peppiatt Bloomsbury. 401 pages, $30.   ONE OF THE THINGS we learn from critic Michael Peppiatt’s memoir of his decades-long friendship with the British painter Francis Bacon is that the way Bacon met his lover George Dyer in the 1998 film Love Is the Devil is not […]

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The ‘Virile’ Style in American Art

AROUND THE TURN of the 20th century, “virile” (from the Latin virilis, manly) was an adjective frequently used by art critics to characterize American paintings. The boldest and most independent painters were conventionally designated as “virile,” while those who depended on European models were by implication not as masculine or even effeminate. Thus there were also nationalistic overtones to this term. “Virile” had connotations of mental health and moral purity as distinct from European decadence and corruption. Modernism itself was judged a European import that American artists would do well to avoid.

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Martin Wong on the Lower East Side

Aligning himself with black and Latino graffiti artists and poets on the Lower East Side, including the legendary Puerto Rican writer and ex-con Miguel Piñero, his friend and sometime lover, Wong nevertheless described himself as a “tourist” there. If indeed he felt like an outsider—and Wong, Asian and gay, could certainly look like one, flamboyantly dressed, as he often was, from head to toe, like an urban cowboy—as an artist he penetrated deeply into the social terrain that he was observing.

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