"Lost and Found"

Smithsonian

The exhibition Lost and Found: The Lesbian and Gay Presence in the Archives of American Art presents, through letters, photographs, unpublished writings and rare printed material, glimpses into the sometimes private, sometimes “out” lives, careers and communities of gay American artists.

This exhibition will be on display from Oct. 29, 2010 to Feb. 13, 2011, in the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery at the Smithsonian’s Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture.

Lesbian and gay artists have made a strong imprint on American art for at least two centuries. No matter how they identified themselves—straight, gay, bisexual or queer—many of the artists in this exhibition belonged to creative communities that were unusually welcoming to nonconformist gender roles. Indeed, lesbian and gay visual, literary and performing artists were the first in American history to live openly in same-sex relationships and express their sexuality, well before the modern lesbian and gay civil rights movement.

And yet into the late 20th century, many artists did not feel safe to talk and write about same-sex desire except with lovers and other intimates, if at all. The guarded way these artists refer to love and personal relationships is in sharp contrast to a new generation of lesbian and gay artists for whom the imperative to come out of the closet is essential to their creativity and to their politics.

This exhibition, guest curated by artist and art historian Jonathan Weinberg, complements the concurrent exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery.

The Archives of American Art is the world’s pre-eminent resource dedicated to collecting and preserving the papers and primary records of the visual arts in America.

Exhibited in Washington, D.C. at the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery
October 29, 2010 – February 13, 2011

What happens when one looks for what has been previously suppressed or overlooked: in this case the existence of lesbian and gay relationships and representations in the Archive?

Lesbian and gay artists have made a strong imprint on American art for at least two centuries. No matter how they identified themselves—straight, gay, bisexual, or queer—many of the artists in this exhibit belonged to creative communities that were unusually welcoming to nonconformist gender roles. In these circles, artists felt free to represent homoerotic images. Indeed, lesbian and gay visual, literary, and performing artists were the first in American history to live openly in same-sex relationships and express their sexuality, well before the modern lesbian and gay civil rights movement.

And yet into the late 20th century, many artists did not feel safe to talk and write about same-sex desire, except with lovers and other intimates, if at all. The guarded way these artists refer to love and personal relationships is in sharp contrast to a new generation of lesbian and gay artists, for whom the imperative to come out of the closet is essential to their creativity and to their politics.

The Archives of American Art contains numerous letters, photographs, unpublished writings and rare printed material that document the lives of gay American artists. This exhibition presents glimpses into their sometimes private, sometimes “out” lives, careers and communities.

This exhibition is curated by Jonathan Weinberg and funded by the Lawrence A. Fleischman Endowment.

Georgia O’Keeffe

Although Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) may never have had an affair with a woman, she was unusually charismatic, and it was not unusual for both men and women to fall in love with her.

In this remarkable image, one among the hundreds of photographs Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) took of O’Keeffe during their romance and marriage, Stieglitz emphasizes O’Keeffe’s androgynous good looks.
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Georgia O'Keeffe


Beauford Delaney, Paris, France letter to Lawrence Calcagno

For the abstract expressionist Beauford Delaney (1901–1979), artist and teacher Lawrence Calcagno (1913–1993) was one of the mainstays of his troubled life. Calcagno provided him with economic as well as emotional support. Delaney wrote Calcagno letters of thanks and love in which he discreetly referred to their shared experience of being gay and feeling marginalized.
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Beauford Delaney, Paris, France letter to Lawrence Calcagno


Nan Mason and Wilna Hervey in Italy

As an actress, Wilna Hervey (1894–1979) was best known for her role as the Powerful Katrinka in the Toonerville Trolley silent film comedies. In 1920, she met Nan Mason (1896–1982), daughter of silent film actor (and Hervey’s costar) Dan Mason. The women were lifelong companions until Hervey’s death in 1979. They mailed this snapshot to Dan Mason while on vacation in Italy. Hervey and Mason both pursued careers as artists and for many years lived in the bohemian artist colony in Woodstock, New York.
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Nan Mason and Wilna Hervey in Italy


Poem Visuals, invitation to Andy Warhol and Gerard Malanga poetry

Poet, photographer, and filmmaker Gerard Malanga (b. 1943) was Warhol’s chief assistant and the star of many of his earliest films. As Warhol’s pop art became more successful throughout the 1960s, Malanga and the rest of the Warhol “Factory” took over the work of producing Warhol’s paintings and sculptures.
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Poem Visuals, invitation to Andy Warhol and Gerard Malanga poetry


Thomas Eakins and J. Laurie Wallace posing at waters edge

Although Thomas Eakins (1844–1916) was married, art historians have raised questions about his sexual identity, because of Eakins’s practice of photographing himself and his male students in the nude and because of homoerotic themes in his art.

He famously wrote his father: “I can conceive of few circumstances wherein I would have to paint a woman naked, but if I did I would not mutilate her for double the money. She is the most beautiful thing there is—except a naked man…”
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Thomas Eakins and J. Laurie Wallace posing at waters edge


Scrapbook relating to Emma Stebbins

Emma Stebbins (1815–1882) was one of group of expatriate American sculptors who worked in Rome.

This drawing and the scrapbook kept by her sister Mary include images of Stebbins’s lover, the famous actress Charlotte Saunders Cushman (1816–1876). The scrapbook also includes pictures of Stebbins’s most famous commission, the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, whose angel is a central image in Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (1991).
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Scrapbook relating to Emma Stebbins


Romaine Brooks

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Romaine Brooks


Romaine Brooks with her work

Romaine Brooks (1874–1970) stands in her studio among some of her best-known works of art, including the 1923 self-portrait in which she wears a hyper-masculine suit of her own design. In the background is her 1924 portrait of Lady Troubridge with her two dachshunds.

Una Troubridge was the lover of Radclyffe Hall, author of the classic lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness (1928), which includes several characters based on members of the Barney/Brooks circle.
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Romaine Brooks with her work


My love is like the sea: returning – as the tide –

The sculptor Beatrice Fenton (1887–1983) met the painter Marjorie Martinet (1886–1981) when they were both students at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the two nurtured a romance for more than 50 years. While Martinet’s letters to Fenton are not as direct as Fenton’s to her, Martinet gave free rein to her emotions in her poetry.
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My love is like the sea: returning - as the tide -


Beatrice Fenton with her sculpture Seaweed fountain

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Beatrice Fenton with her sculpture Seaweed fountain


Marsden Hartley in costume

If Marsden Hartley (1877–1943) was considerably less comfortable than his friend Charles Demuth about appearing effeminate or gay, he was proud of how attractive this Arabian Nights outfit made him to young men at a costume ball.
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Marsden Hartley in costume


Elizabeth McCausland with Gertrude Stein

The photo on the top left shows McCausland meeting the famous lesbian author Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) during the tour for Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933).
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Elizabeth McCausland with Gertrude Stein


Elizabeth McCausland at her printing press

Photographer Berenice Abbott (1898–1991) and art critic Elizabeth McCausland (1899–1965) were longtime companions and collaborators. McCausland wrote the text for Abbott’s Federal Art Project book Changing New York, a collection of 97 photographs of New York in the 1930s.

McCausland, whom Abbott called “Butchy,” was a frequent subject of her camera. Here Abbott shows Butchy with the press that she used to print small limited editions of poetry and prose.
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Elizabeth McCausland at her printing press


Richmond Barthe

Richmond Barthé (1901–1989) was one of the leading sculptors of the Harlem Renaissance. Whereas most modern nudes focus on the female form, Barthé’s favorite subjects were beautiful young men.
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Richmond Barthe


Carl Van Vechten

Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964) was a novelist, critic, photographer, and key promoter of the Harlem Renaissance. Although he was married to the actress Fania Marinoff, Van Vechten was unusually open about his preference for men. In the 1940s and 1950s created an extraordinary series of photographs of naked men, as well as portraits of some of the most prominent lesbian and gay artists of his time.
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Carl Van Vechten


Eleanor Roosevelt with Alaine Locke and Peter Pollack

Trained as a philosopher, gay art historian and critic Alain Locke (1885–1954), editor of the anthology The New Negro (1925), was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance.

Although he sometimes clashed with Carl Van Vechten, they were both advocates for African American visual artists and early supporters of the work of Richmond Barthé.
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Eleanor Roosevelt with Alaine Locke and Peter Pollack


The Negro mother and other dramatic recitations

Prentiss Taylor (1907–1991) was a painter, illustrator, and master printmaker. He was part of a circle of gay visual artists and writers who were closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance, including the novelist, critic, and photographer Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964) and the writer Langston Hughes (1902–1967). Harlem was a cultural mecca for African Americans between the wars, and its bars and clubs were often safe havens for lesbians and gays, as well as other so-called bohemians.

Prentiss Taylor created hand-colored illustrations for this edition of Langston Hughes’ The Negro Mother, which includes the poetic recitation, “The Colored Soldier.”
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The Negro mother and other dramatic recitations


Colored Soldier

This is an original typescript of the “Colored Soldier” by Langston Hughes and annotated by Prentiss Taylor.
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Colored Soldier


Gladys Bentley, Prentiss Taylor, and Nora Holt

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Gladys Bentley, Prentiss Taylor, and Nora Holt


Sculptor Una Hanbury and subject Georgia O’Keeffe

Although Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) may never have had an affair with a woman, she was unusually charismatic, and it was not unusual for both men and women to fall in love with her. She had intense relationships with Una Hanbury, Rebecca Strand, and with her assistant Maria Chabot, who helped create O’Keeffe’s beautiful home in Abiquiu, New Mexico
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Sculptor Una Hanbury and subject Georgia O'Keeffe


Frida Kahlo

Mexican painter Frida Kahlo’s (1907–1954) most famous lover was her husband, Diego Rivera, but she had many affairs with both men and women. She frequently dressed in masculine clothes and sometimes allowed her facial hair to grow, creating an androgynous erotic allure that flouted traditional gender boundaries.
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Frida Kahlo


Paul Cadmus, Jared French and George Tooker

The painters Paul Cadmus (1904–1999), William Christopher (1924–1973), Jared French (1905–1988), Pavel Tchelitchew (1898–1957), and George Tooker (b. 1920), the photographer George Platt Lynes (1907–1955), and their patron—the critic, curator, and ballet impresario Lincoln Kirstein (1907–1996)—constituted a closely knit circle whose primary subject matter was the male nude.

George Platt Lynes posed Cadmus, French, and Tooker as if they all worked side by side in harmony. In fact, Tooker never worked in the Greenwich Village studio that Cadmus and Lynes shared. Cadmus and French had been lovers in the 1930s, but after French married the painter Margaret Hoening, Cadmus became Tooker’s lover. Yet French continued to have relationships with other men, including Cadmus.
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Paul Cadmus, Jared French and George Tooker


Lincoln Kirstein letter to George Tooker

In this letter to George Tooker, Lincoln Kirstein comments on Tooker’s most famous painting, The Subway (1950). He admires the work, but he wishes Tooker would take on less anxious subjects like the ballet.
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Lincoln Kirstein letter to George Tooker


Color design for Subway

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Color design for Subway


George Tooker, Daniel Maloney, and William Christopher

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George Tooker, Daniel Maloney, and William Christopher


William Christopher

The painter William Christopher (1924–1963), partner of the painter George Tooker, posed half nude for George Platt Lynes (1907–1955). Lynes was one of the leading fashion photographers of his day, but he is better known for his nude photographs of his circle of artist friends and models, and for his extraordinary pictures of ballet dancers, which later inspired the work of Robert Mapplethorpe.
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William Christopher


Betty Parsons standing in the doorway of her gallery

Painter and gallerist Betty Parsons (1900–1982) was part of an orbit of openly lesbian artists in Paris between the wars—one that included bookseller Sylvia Beach, art patron Natalie Barney, and author Gertrude Stein. However, she became discreet about her sexual orientation in New York in her role as the preeminent New York art dealer for abstract expressionism in the 1950s.
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Betty Parsons standing in the doorway of her gallery


Andy Warhol

While Andy Warhol’s (1928–1987) paintings and experimental films overtly explored homoerotic desire, his studio (the Factory) was a magnet in the 1960s for young artists intent on testing the boundaries of acceptable behavior and sexual mores. Among Warhol’s many extracurricular activities was producing the band The Velvet Underground with Lou Reed, whose most famous hit, “Walk on the Wild Side,” became an unofficial gay anthem.
In contrast to Warhol’s usual public deadpan demeanor, this spontaneous portrait is surprisingly sweet and vulnerable.
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Andy Warhol


Andy Warhol to Russell Lynes

Andy Warhol began his career as a commercial artist, quickly becoming one of the most successful fashion illustrators in New York City in the 1950s. In this very early sketch and note to Russell Lynes, managing editor of Harper’s Magazine, Warhol modestly claims his “life couldn’t fill a penny postcard.” Throughout his career, Warhol would constantly reinvent the details of his early biography.
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Andy Warhol to Russell Lynes


Ray Johnson, N.Y. letter to Lucy R. Lippard

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Ray Johnson, N.Y. letter to Lucy R. Lippard


Ray Johnson letter to Joseph Cornell

Ray Johnson (1927–1995) was a student alongside Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage at Black Mountain College, North Carolina, in the late 1940s. His enigmatic and sometimes homoerotic collages frequently took the form of mail art—clippings, poems, doctored advertisements, and elaborate puns—that he sent to people in the art world, often with the request to change them and send them on to other colleagues.
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Ray Johnson letter to Joseph Cornell


Paul Wonner with Bill Brown

The San Francisco Bay Area figurative painters William Theo Brown (b. 1919) and Paul Wonner (1920–2008) met in art school and became lifetime companions, living openly as a gay couple since the 1950s. Here they pose next to a Wonner self-portrait of the artist painting a naked male model.
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Paul Wonner with Bill Brown


Woman to woman exhibition poster

Sheila Levrant de Bretteville (b. 1940), who currently heads the
Yale University Art School’s Graphic Design Department, designed some of the most important of the Woman’s Building’s posters, brochures, and invitations. She was affectionately known as “Pinkie” for the way her designs reclaimed the color pink for feminism.
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Woman to woman exhibition poster


Lenore Tawney postcard to Maryette Charlton

Fiber artist Lenore Tawney (1907–2007) sent this flirtatious collage about kissing—centering on the lovemaking of two pandas—to the married filmmaker Maryette Charlton. She may have been jokingly referring to Charlton’s heterosexuality by incorporating a Gertrude Stein quote, “a wife has a cow a Love Story.”
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Lenore Tawney postcard to Maryette Charlton


Group at Mr. Chow’s restaurant in New York

Several openly gay artists—including Keith Haring, David Hockney, and Robert Mapplethorpe—pose with their friends at this favorite hangout of the 1980s art world.

From top to bottom, left to right: Michael Heizer, David Hockney, Leroy Neiman, Dennis Oppenheim, Stefano, William Wegman, John Luri, Unidentified, John Chamberlain, Andy Warhol, Arman, Alex Katz, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Tony Shafraz, Red Grooms, Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ronnie Cutrone, Unidentified, Sandro Chia, Chris Goode, Darius Azari, Bernard Zette, Shawn Hausman, Eric Goode.
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Group at Mr. Chow's restaurant in New York


fonte:

“Lost and Found” Exhibition Opens in Washington, D.C. – Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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