Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture

Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture

by Jonathan D. Katz, David C. Ward


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An entirely new interpretation of modern American portraiture based on the history of sexual difference.

Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, companion volume to an exhibition of the same name at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, traces the defining presence of same-sex desire in American portraiture through a seductive selection of more than 140 full-color illustrations, drawings, and portraits from leading American artists. Arcing from the turn of the twentieth century, through the emergence of the modern gay liberation movement in 1969, the tragedies of the AIDS epidemic, and to the present, Hide/Seek openly considers what has long been suppressed or tacitly ignored, even by the most progressive sectors of our society: the influence of gay and lesbian artists in creating American modernism.

Hide/Seek shows how questions of gender and sexual identity dramatically shaped the artistic practices of influential American artists such as Thomas Eakins, Romaine Brooks, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Demuth, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Andrew Wyeth, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, and many more—in addition to artists of more recent works such as Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Glenn Ligon, Catherine Opie, and Cass Bird. The authors argue that despite the late-nineteenth-century definition and legal codification of the “homosexual,” in reality, questions of sexuality always remained fluid and continually redefined by artists concerned with the act of portrayal. In particular, gay and lesbian artists—of but not fully in the society they portrayed—occupied a position of influential marginality, from which vantage point they crafted innovative and revolutionary ways of painting portraits. Their resistance to society's attempt to proscribe them forced them to develop new visual vocabularies by which to code, disguise, and thereby express their subjects' identities—and also their own.

Bringing together for the first time new scholarship in the history of American sexuality and new research in American portraiture, Hide/Seek charts the heretofore hidden impact of gay and lesbian artists on American art and portraiture and creates the basis for the necessary reassessment of the careers of major American artists—both gay and straight—as well as of portraiture itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781588342997
Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
Publication date: 11/02/2010
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 12.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Jonathan D. Katz is director of the visual studies doctoral program, State University of New York–Buffalo. Katz founded and directed the Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies at Yale University and was the founding chair of the Department of Lesbian and Gay Studies at City College of San Francisco, the first department of lesbian and gay studies in the United States. The first tenured professor in gay and lesbian studies in the nation, he has written extensively on postwar American art, culture, and sexuality for a wide range of publications in the United States and Europe. Katz lives in Philadelphia, PA.

David C. Ward is a historian at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. He is the author of Charles Wilson Peale: Art and Selfhood in the Early Republic and has published articles on a variety of topics in history and culture and on such figures as Hart Crane, Marsden Hartley, Ernest Hemingway, and Gerhard Richter. Ward is also a poet and critic who has been widely published in Anglo-American literary magazines.

Table of Contents

Foreword–Martin E. Sullivan
Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture–Jonathan Katz

Before Difference, 1870–1918
New Geographies/New Identities
Postwar America: Accommodation and Resistance
Stonewall and More Modern Identities

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