Tag: Lesbian

Mickalene Thomas

Mickalene Thomas

Mickalene Thomas is a black queer artist who uses mixed media to create large pieces of her muses, mostly black women from different races, sexualities, gender identities, and expressions.

Featured Artwork: Sleep: Deux Femmes Noires (Translates to: Two Black Women)

Date & Location: (2013) by Mickalene Thomas (Born 1971)

Media: Photography, collage, and woodblock print processes

Where can I view this artwork?: Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University in Ithica, NY (USA)

Significance to Queer Art History: This selected work from Mickalene Thomas is part of her series “Origin of the Universe” that draws from “traditional” (Read: white-centered art history) paintings. Thomas combines the pose and intention from Gustave Courbet’s Le Sommeil (Translates to: “The Sleepers”) from 1866 with her own photography and processes as a claim of black women’s place in media and art as erotic and soft, just as the women in Courbet’s painting are portrayed.

Courbet’s Le Sommeil:

Resources & Further Reading: 

Gonzalez, Desi. “MICKALENE THOMAS- Origin of the Universe.” The Brooklyn Rail. Accessed June 2017. http://brooklynrail.org/2012/11/artseen/mickalene-thomas-origin-of-the-universe.

“Sleep: Deux Femmes Noires.” Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. Accessed June 2017. http://museum.cornell.edu/collections/modern-contemporary/mixed-media/sleep-deux-femmes-noires.

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

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.

Artist Unknown- Funerary Relief of Fonteia Helena and Fonteia Eleusis (21-14 BCE)

Artist Unknown- Funerary Relief of Fonteia Helena and Fonteia Eleusis (21-14 BCE)

 

Featured Artwork: Funerary Relief of Fonteia Helena and Fonteia Eleusis

Date & Location: 21-14 BCE (Augustinian Period) Rome, Italy

Media: Marble Relief

Where can I view this artwork?: This relief currently belongs to the British Museum’s collection

Significance to Queer Art History: This sculpture was a commemoration of freedwomen Fonteia Helena and Fonteia Eleusis. The figures placement together signifies an important relationship in life. It is argued that the two women were lovers or even married due to their position as one that was also commonly given to heterosexual married couples in funerary reliefs. The sculpture was modified a few centuries later by an unknown person in attempt to modify the left figure’s appearance to appear as a male figure by cutting off her hair.

Resources & Further Reading:

“Relief.” British Museum. Accessed July 25, 2017. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?assetId=391042001&objectId=394264&partId=1.

Brooten, Bernadette J. Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism. 1998. 58-59.

Hans Baldung Grien- Witches’ Orgy (1514)

Hans Baldung Grien- Witches’ Orgy (1514)

Hans Baldung Grien was a pupil of Albrecht Durer in the early 1500’s. He lived in Germany along with Durer during this time. He is not rumored to have been queer, but was interested in showing women’s (specifically women rumored to be witches) “unnatural lusts” toward one another in this time.

Featured artwork: Witches’ Orgy

Date and Location: 1514, Germany

Media: Pen and Ink

Significance to Queer Art History:

During this time, women (mostly spinsters and widows) who were supposed “witches” were prosecuted heavily in Northern Europe. This lead to a spread of artwork and literature on witchcraft. Connecting to witchcraft was lesbianism, which was a supposed interaction of their “unnatural lusts” and “sex with the devil”. This was a reflection of society’s fear of masculine and independent women.

Grien’s Witches Orgy is exemplarily of the lusts and interactions of witches among each other in their gatherings and orgies. While no phalluses or broomstick shapes are found in the imagery as one would see in modern  and playful imagery of “witches”,  physical power play is shown over one another in the position of the figures climbing over one another.

Resources & Further Reading:

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York, NY: Viking, 2000. 92-95.

Smalls, James. “Female Homosexuality in the Visual Arts.” In Homosexuality in Art. New York: Confidential Concepts, 2015.

 

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

Frida Kahlo, born in 1907, claimed she was born in 1910, the year that the Mexican revolution began. She was proud of Mexican culture and heritage. Thus, she showed this through her art and life in Mexico. Her works centered on her identity, passions, and pain. Kahlo suffered from polio as a child and later, almost died from a bus accident. She began her focus on painting while in a body cast during this time. As she worked through her life, more health complications came up for her, including miscarriages that resulted from the bus accident. This resulted in more artworks delving into her pain. Kahlo was noted as bisexual for her various lovers and love for women in her life. She was passionate about maintaining her gardens and her pets, including dogs, spider monkeys, birds, and even a deer. Perhaps one of Kahlo’s greatest passions in her life was fellow painter, Diego Rivera. While both Kahlo and Rivera had affairs and a tumultuous relationship, having married twice, they each were passionate about the other.

Featured Artwork: Two Nudes in the Forest (The Earth Itself)
two-nudes-in-the-forest-the-earth-itself

Date and location: 1939 in Mexico

Media: Oil on metal

Significance to Queer Art History:
This painting was originally created as a gift for Kahlo’s intimate partner, Delores del Rio, who was a popular Mexican actress in the 1920s-30s.

Symbolism:
The two women symbolize feminine sexuality as well as Frida’s dual identities comforting one another as European (signified by the figure with light skin) and Mestiza.

The painting also contains a monkey (a common symbol in Frida’s paintings and life as she owned several spider monkeys.) Monkeys, however, are also common symbols for sin and sexual promiscuity.

Resources & Further Reading:

“Biography of Frida Kahlo.” Biography | Frida Kahlo. Accessed April 13, 2017. https://www.frida-kahlo-foundation.org/biography.html.

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York, NY: Viking, 2000. 237-38

“Two Nudes in the Forest (The Earth Itself).” Frida Kahlo: Paintings, Biography, Quotes. Accessed April 13, 2017. https://www.fridakahlo.org/two-nudes-in-the-forest.jsp.