Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art

Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art

by Richard Meyer
     
 

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From the U.S. Navy's 1934 confiscation of a painting of sailors on shore leave to contemporary culture wars over funding for the arts, conflicts surrounding homosexuality and creative freedom have shaped the history of modern art in America. Richard Meyer's Outlaw Representation tells the charged story of this strife through pioneering analysis of theSee more details below

Overview


From the U.S. Navy's 1934 confiscation of a painting of sailors on shore leave to contemporary culture wars over funding for the arts, conflicts surrounding homosexuality and creative freedom have shaped the history of modern art in America. Richard Meyer's Outlaw Representation tells the charged story of this strife through pioneering analysis of the works of gay artists and the circumstances under which these works have been attacked, suppressed, or censored outright. Focusing on the careers of Paul Cadmus, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, David Wojnarowicz, Gran Fury, and Holly Hughes, Outlaw Representation explores how gay artists responded to the threat of censorship by producing their own "outlaw representations" of homosexuality. Instead of acquiescing to attacks on their work as indecent or obscene, these artists used the outlaw status of homosexuality to propose new forms of social, sexual, and creative life.

Richly illustrated, Outlaw Representation includes close to 200 striking images, ranging from the art of celebrated figures such as Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorpe to physique-magazine photographs and gay liberation posters. Throughout, images that once provoked censorship now elicit close visual analysis and careful historical investigation. Engagingly written and sweepingly researched, Outlaw Representation promises to be a landmark in the study of twentieth-century American art, politics, and sexuality.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A smartly written, intensively researched and vigilantly argued new book.... Whether analyzing a painting or the words of a political speech, Mr. Meyer comes across as a cool but engaged observer. Most important, he's a good storyteller, and he has fascinating stories to tell."--Holland Cotter, The New York Times

"In Richard Meyer's subtle and informative book, nothing is quite so simple as the heroic story his title suggests....[Meyer] wants us to think about the way the possibility of art, at least when same-sex desire enters the picture, is always entangled with its own censorship."--Artforum

"This genuinely groundbreaking book charts the unexpectedly productive as well as restrictive effects of queers' multiple encounters with censorship over the course of the last century. Beautifully written and illustrated, Meyer's study combines significant historical research and reflection with richly insightful interpretations of queer art to illuminate the history of twentieth-century American art and culture as a whole as well as the distinctive and little-known history of gay artists."--George Chauncey, Professor of History, University of Chicago

"In Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art, Richard Meyer crafts a brilliant and persuasive argument about the interdependence of representations of homosexuality and acts of censorship. Throughout the book, Meyer excels at close, detailed visual interpretations of images. Rigorous analyses of color, of actual paint application, of sitters' postures and their costumes all yield nuanced readings of the terms by which homosexuality is represented and censored. Meyer's text provides a sophisticated, nuanced, theoretically informed reading that is nonetheless jargon-free. To my mind, the book sets a new standard for contemporary art-historical scholarship: clear writing and persuasive and original thinking about the ways in which images function as historical agents and not mere reflections of either history or theory."--Cécile Whiting, Professor of Art History, University of California, Los Angeles

"It seems fitting that the best book on the policing of sexual imagery in the twentieth century should be written by an art historian. Meyer deftly uncloaks not just the invidious ways censorship seeks to rub out the work of gay artists, but also the equally powerful ways censorship is itself creatively thematized, analyzed, and satirized by the very artists targeted for suppression. This terrifically smart and intellectually savvy book should be required bedside reading for every public official boorish enough to wage war on the resourceful and imaginative world of contemporary American art."--Diana Fuss, Professor of English, Princeton University

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195107609
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
01/17/2002
Series:
Ideologies of Desire Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
392
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.10(d)

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