Art and Queer Culture

Deborah Bright, Dream Girls, 1989-1990. Photomontage. 41 x 51 cm. Courtesy the artist

This new hardback dives into history to analyse how artists and writers, for over 125 years, have responded to alternative forms of sexuality. Working within the unstable definitions of queer and the inherited limits of identity politics, Catherine Lord and Richard Meyer open these restrictions into a framework to understand modern and contemporary art. They are aware of the enormity of their task: “writing queer culture into the history of art means redrawing the boundaries of what counts as art as well as what counts as history.” 

Echoing the tumultuous changes of the Twentieth Century, the shifting nature of homosexual representation is traced against a backdrop of politics and modernity. Rejecting same-sex desire as a rigid, fixed category, this changeability is apparent in the variety of works presented, which consistently oppose “the tyranny of the normal” by refusing social as well as sexual norms. 

Split into three parts – Survey, Works and Documents – the book is a comprehensive reassessment of queer culture. The final section presents written texts that have reciprocally shaped gay and lesbian art, with extracts from Oscar Wilde to Eileen Myles. Laid together, they are powerful and provocative. 

Taken from Sleek 40 “Man/Boy”. Review by Lilly Daniell

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