Author: Casey Hoke

Muhammad Qasim- Shah Abbas I with a Page

Muhammad Qasim- Shah Abbas I with a Page

Featured Artwork: Shah Abbas I with a Page

Media: Miniature Ink and paint illustration

Date and location: 1627 in the Persian Empire (Now Iran)

Where can I find this artwork?: The Louvre in Paris France in Islamic Art: The Modern Empires (1500–1800)

Significance to Queer Art History: 

This miniature illustration depicts Shah Abbas I of Persia and his page boy interacting and sharing wine. The imagery is soft and intimate as the page holds the wine flask erect towards the Shah’s crotch and almost embraces him. In Islam, sex was a positive thing. Sex between men was even held as a “spiritual bliss”, albeit not officially condoned. The small arabic lettering on the right hand side gestures at the bliss of wine and lovers, reading:

“May life provide all that you desire from three lips: those of your lover, the river, and the cup.”

All three of these things may be featured if the tree setting is in fact, near a river. This illustration also brings forward an allusion to the Koran’s view of paradise with all the blisses of life from the poem in tact.

Resources & Further Reading: 

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York, NY: Viking, 2000. 146-147.

Summers, Claude J. “Erotic Miniature Painting.” In The Queer Encyclopedia of the Visual Arts. San Francisco: Cleis Press, 2004.

“Work Shah Abbas I and His Page.” Louvre Museum | Paris. Accessed August 11, 2017. http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/shah-abbas-i-and-his-page.

 

 

ACT UP Los Angeles- Sir Lady Java

ACT UP Los Angeles- Sir Lady Java

Featured Artwork: Sir Lady Java poster by ACT UP Los Angeles

Date and location: Los Angeles, CA (USA) (1990)

Significance to Queer Art History:

This poster is a piece of “artivism” used by ACT UP Los Angeles that features a painting of Sir Lady Java (1943- ), a black transgender performer who was prominent in the 1960s and 70s nightclub scene in Los Angeles. This was carried around in Los Angeles and Orange County Pride parades.

In 1967, the Los Angeles Police Department began shutting down Java’s performances citing “Rule Number 9”, a city ordinance that banned “impersonation by means of costume or dress a person of the opposite sex.” This led Java to consult with the ACLU to overturn this measure. Courts ruled that only individual clubs could sue performers. Rule Number 9 was later shut down in accordance to a separate issue. From Sir Lady Java during the time of her fight for the right to work: “I feel strongly about discrimination against male-females and female-males. I am fighting to have our kind accepted on merit and merit alone.” 

Resources & further reading:

Artist Unknown, “Sir Lady Java” Sign Carried by ACTUP/Los Angeles in Los Angeles and Orange County Pride Parades, Part of a Larger Series of Placard Signs Honoring LGBTQ Pioneers in Southern California, circa 1990. ONE Archives at the USC Libraries.” ONE National Gay Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries. Accessed August 13, 2017. http://one.usc.edu/motha/motha007/.

Roberts, Monica. “Sir Lady Java- Trans Civil Rights Warrior.” TransGriot. January 01, 1970. Accessed August 13, 2017. http://transgriot.blogspot.ca/2010/12/sir-lady-java-trans-civil-rights.html.

“5 Black Trans Women Who Paved the Way.” Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. February 24, 2016. Accessed August 13, 2017. http://www.masstpc.org/5-who-paved-the-way/.

 

Gustave Courbet- Le Sommeil (The Sleepers)

Gustave Courbet- Le Sommeil (The Sleepers)

Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) was known for his realistic depictions humans and his sometimes even “gritty” depictions of life and the body as seen through the eye.

During his time as a realist, women’s rights movements in the US and across some of Europe were just getting into their places of mobilization. While many men at this time were “distraught”, they were also calmed by art of a voyeuristic nature to that surged at this time as Romantic authors and artists hinted into the “secret” and romantic lives of women.

Featured Artwork: Le Sommeil (The Sleepers)

Date & Location: 1866 in Paris, France

Media: Oil painting

Where can I view this artwork?: The Petit Palais in Paris, France

Significance to Queer Art History: Le Sommeil  was commissioned by the Turkish Ambassador to Paris for his private collection. This painting was catered to the male gaze in this way and for the fact that men at this time were indeed, interested in looking into the romantic lives of women who loved women for their own pleasure. While this is, one can see that the women’s bodies are realistic and curved instead of (to put this plainly for the times) “photoshopped” into magazine figures. This shows Courbet’s eye for realism. The strewn objects (pearls, hair clips, and blankets) are also in a fashion that shows prior activity and lust after one another between the women.

Resources & Further Reading:

“The Sleepers.” Petit Palais. October 03, 2016. Accessed August 2017. http://www.petitpalais.paris.fr/en/oeuvre/sleepers.

Saslow

https://www.jstor.org/stable/1483342?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Herbert Singleton- Love that not Love

Herbert Singleton- Love that not Love

Featured Artwork:  Love That Not Love

Date and Location: 1990 in New Orleans, Louisiana (USA)

Media: Acrylic paint on carved wood

Where can I see this artwork?: Displayed in the past at the New Orleans Old Mint Museum as part of the exhibition, titled: Soul of the South: Selections from the Gitter-Yellen Collection. On display: November 20, 2015 – May 28, 2017

Herbert Singleton (1945-2007) , a self-taught artist from New Orleans, LA (USA) painted this to show the messages considered taboo (yet clear in the carved figures loving embrace) in the 1990s. Love between white men was just on the brink of hitting major popular culture and television at this time, while love between black men and men of color was scant, hence the title: ‘Love That Not Love”.

Sources & Further Reading:
“Herbert Singleton” Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery. Accessed August 07, 2017. http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artist/?id=7431.
MacCash, Doug. “Herbert Singleton, Noted Folk Artist Dies.” NOLA.com. August 02, 2007. Accessed August 07, 2017. http://blog.nola.com/dougmaccash/2007/08/herbert_singleton_noted_folk_a.html.
Greer Lankton (1958-1996)

Greer Lankton (1958-1996)

Greer Lankton was an American Artist based in East Village in New York City. She created and re-purposed dolls as expressions and interpretations of herself, her imagination, friends, and influential celebrities. Lankton, a transgender woman, was born in 1958 and physically transitioned and was subject of a few news articles in this time before college at the age of 21. She attended the Art Institute of Chicago and Pratt. Lankton, since left a legacy of her work having been featured in the Whittney Biennial and the Venice Biennale in 1995 before her death in 1996. Her work has since been featured and remembered in the US with the 2014 exhibition, titled: “LOVE ME”

Featured Artwork: Bust of Candy Darling

Date & Location: 1989 in New York City

Significance to Queer Art History: Candy Darling, a transgender actress who was featured in several of Andy Warhol’s films was one of Lankton’s icons that she also looked up to as a trans woman. Inside the bust is a valentine-style heart next to a human heart that Lankton has fabricated. This could allude to the idea that, as a friend of hers, Julia Morton writes: “the artist’s life was sustained as much by fantasy as reality”.

Resources & Further Reading:

Morton, Julia. “Greer Lankton, a Memoir.” Artnet Magazine. January 27, 2007. Accessed May 2017. http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/morton/morton1-26-07.asp.

Nastac, Simona, and Massimo Grimaldi. “Unalterable Strangeness.” Flash Art. July 27, 2016. Accessed May 2017. http://www.flashartonline.com/article/unalterable-strangeness/.

Titian- Diana and Actaeon

Titian- Diana and Actaeon

Titian (1488-1576) , born in Venice, Italy as  Tiziano Vecellio or Tiziano Vecelli was known as the greatest renaissance painter of the Venetian school of art. His works centered on common catholic religious art and classical scenes from Greek and Roman mythology as the aesthetics and lore of ancient Greece and Rome were popularized once more during the Italian Renaissance.

 Featured Artwork: Diana and Actaeon

Date and location: 1556-59 in Venice, Italy

Media: Oil painting

Where can I find this artwork?: The National Gallery in London, England

Significance to Queer Art History: 

This painting centers on Actaeon the hunter and his incident of stumbling upon Diana, the goddess of the moon, the hunt, and fertility, (Also known as Artemis in Greek mythology) along with her attendants. This painting takes place right before the hunter is turned into a stag and hunted for lurking in their space. The painting symbolizes male fear and lust for pursuing desires that aren’t meant to be shared with them, hence Diana’s sensuous relationships with her attendants.

Resources & Further Reading: 

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York, NY: Viking, 2000. 107-108

“Titian’s ‘Diana and Actaeon’.” National Gallery. https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/research/titians-diana-and-actaeon.

Wethey, Harold E. “Titian.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Accessed August 07, 2017. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Titian.

Unknown- Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple

Unknown- Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple

Featured Artwork: Presentation of the Virgin by Fra Carnevale

Date & Location: 1465 in Florence, Italy

Media: Tempera and oil paint

Significance to Queer Art History:
The male couple in the middle reflects “temptation” and modern relationships in Florence with their modern dress and the figure on the left (almost half way up the painting) “chucking” the other man under the chin in suggestive fashion. This was considered an erotic gesture and perhaps a lash at the purity of the rest of the scene that alluded to some of the contemporary lives of young men in Florence.

Close-up view of couple:

Where can I view this artwork?: The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA (USA) (Museum Council Gallery (Gallery 254))

Resources & Further Reading:

“Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple.” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. February 05, 2017. Accessed August 15, 2017. http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/presentation-of-the-virgin-in-the-temple-32587.

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York, NY: Viking, 2000. 85-87.

 

Peithinos Painter- Peithinos Cup

Peithinos Painter- Peithinos Cup

Featured Artwork: Peithinos Cup

Date and Location: (525-475 BCE) Athens, Greece

Significance to Queer Art History: This cup is a kylix vessel, used for male centered social drinking of wine. Most kylix vessels had sexual or humorous depictions of individuals on the inside (a surprise for finishing the drink, if you will) and outsides. This kylix vessel, signed by the painter, Peithinos, shows heterosexual and homosexual courtship on the exterior.

Where can I see this artwork?: Currently in the Antikenmuseen’s Collection in Berlin, Germany.

Resources & Further Reading:

“200977, Berlin, Antikensammlung, Berlin, Schloss Charlottenburg, F2279.” Provenance – The Classical Art Research Centre. Accessed August 08, 2017. http://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/XDB/ASP/recordDetails.asp?id=5C03CFDF-D841-432A-8B2C-FAAD6697E456&noResults=&recordCount=&databaseID=&search=.

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York, NY: Viking, 2000. 21-27.

 

Unknown- Tomb of Niankhnum and Khnumhotep (2400 BCE)

Unknown- Tomb of Niankhnum and Khnumhotep (2400 BCE)

Featured Artwork: Entry Fresco to Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep’s Mastaba

Date & Location: 2400 BCE in Saqarra, Egypt

Significance to Queer Art History: This mastaba is the joint tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep. The two men were the chief manicurists and groomers to the king in their time. The nose-to-nose “kiss” pose given to them is intimate and was only given to straight married couples for Egyptian art at this time.

The wives and children of the two men are shown in the tomb as well, but less prominently featured than Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep’s relationship. Khnumhotep is even seen to be occupying roles of a wife figure for Niankhnum in certain frescoes inside the mastaba.

 

Resources & Further Reading: 

“Evidence of Gay Relationships Exists as Early as 2400 B.C.” Egyptology. Accessed April 2017. http://www.egyptology.com/niankhkhnum_khnumhotep/dallas.html.

“Tour Egypt.” The Tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep at Saqqara in Egypt. Accessed April 2017. http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/niankhnumt.htm.

 

Kritios and Nesiotes- Tyrannicide Monument (477 BCE)

Kritios and Nesiotes- Tyrannicide Monument (477 BCE)

Featured Artwork: Statue of Harmodius and Aristogeiton (Also known as Tyrannicide Monument)

Original artists: Kritios and Nesiotes (477 BCE) in Athens, Greece.
The only remaining pictured sculpture is a Greco-Roman copy that can be signified by the figure’s dependence upon faux wooden bases

Where can I view this artwork?: Naples National Archaeological Museum in Naples, Italy

Significance to Queer Art History:

The warrior lovers Harmodius (right) and Aristogeiton (left) rescued the ideals of democracy from a dictator and were heroes to Athens in 514 BCE. Thus, the statues of the warriors were commissioned to be displayed in the public forum. This was the 1st statue to honor mortal heroes instead of divine heroes in public.

Symbolism to note: 

  • Aristogeiton, the older warrior (left) lunges forward and offers a protective cloak for Harmodius. This may symbolize the warrior’s mutual devotion and platonic love to one another.
  • Statues at this time were no longer static and archaic. Instead, they showed idealized realism and movement in posture as the figures place their feet forward and stand in contraposto (meaning, that weight is shifted to one side of the figure.)
  • Both figures are nude. Nudity in Greek sculpture was reserved for gods/ goddesses, warriors, and athletes.

Resources & Further Reading:

“Crizio E Nesiote.” Crizio E Nesiote — Sito Ufficiale Del Museo Archeologico Nazionale Di Napoli. Accessed August, 2017. http://cir.campania.beniculturali.it/museoarcheologiconazionale/glossario/ploneglossarydefinition.2008-06-09.8429349527

“Perseus Digital Library.” Classical Tyrannicides (Sculpture). Accessed August, 2017. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/artifact?name=Classical%2BTyrannicides&object=Sculpture.

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York, NY: Viking, 2000. 17-21.