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Queer Art

Queer Art Collage

Started: 1870

"If I went to a lady of the night, I'd probably pay her to tell me jokes."

Andy Warhol Signature

Summary of Queer Art

Any art that can be considered "queer" refers to the re-appropriation of the term in the 1980s, when it was snatched back from the homophobes and oppressors to become a powerful political and celebratory term to describe the experience of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people. Adhering to no particular style, for over more than a century, Queer Art has used photography, portraiture, abstract painting, sculpture, and collage to explore the varieties and depths of queer identity.

While homosexuality has a long history, the modern sense of the term is relatively new. Since the late 19th century, cultural and legal responses to homosexuality have evolved, but it was only in the second half of the 20th century that many of the laws criminalizing homosexual acts were overturned. It wasn't until the late 20th century that homosexuality was no longer considered a pathology by psychiatrists, and it wasn't until the 21st century that marriage rights were granted to same-sex couples. Throughout all of these circumstances, Queer Art has addressed these issues covertly and overtly, insisting on a voice in the art world that routinely suppressed it.

Key Ideas

Because of the early criminalization of homosexual acts and the social stigma connected to homosexuality, much Queer Art employs coded visual language that would not arouse suspicion among the general public but would allow those familiar with the tropes of the subculture to glean the hidden meaning.
With the rise of activism in the wake of the Civil Rights protests and the AIDS epidemic, Queer Art became more frank and political in its subject matter, forcing the viewers to recognize queer culture and to underscore the institutional inequities and hypocrisy that fueled homophobia.
The Identity Politics surrounding Queer Art has sparked much debate, with some artists embracing Identity Politics and other eschewing it as not important for their work. The shifting nature of identities in particular and changing contexts has induced much questioning in queer communities and produced a myriad of answers.
Queer Art Image

Gay photographer Robert Mapplethorpe died of AIDS related complications in 1989. But when the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. cancelled the artist’s retrospective a few months later, hell broke loose. Protesters gathered outside the gallery, holding placards and shouting. And they projected the artist’s images onto the museum’s walls. In this and many other ways, Queer Art took representations of the gay experience and made it into art. And when it was prevented from doing that, artists and supporters defiantly fought back.

Most Important Art


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