Monday, January 31, 2011


Andrew Wyeth "The Clearing"

I finally had a chance to see "Hide/Seek: Difference And Desire in American Portraiture" at the American Portrait Gallery this past weekend, an exhibition caught in the headlines recently when Republican politicians strong-armed the Smithsonian into removing a controversial video by gay artist David Wojnarowicz.  You can watch the whole video (and an edited version with music) HERE.

The exhibit brings together some obvious queer artists like Andy Warhol, AA Bronson, Jack Pierson, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Catherine Opie, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Georgia O'Keefe and throws in a couple of surprises like minimalist icon Agnes Martin, famed American painters and darlings of middle-America Andrew Wyeth (Christina's World) and Grant Wood (American Gothic) as well as Dada god Marcel Duchamp and the famed turn-of-the-century painter John Sargent Singer.  Phallic dot diva Yayoi Kusama also performed gay weddings! 

The exhibit focuses on the double lives lived of artists, poets and musicians, familiar to anyone queer enough to notice as well as the implicit yearning of an audience eager to see its desires and political aspirations represented.  At times it felt a bit like the purpose of the show was to "out" queer artists, many of whom are dead.  Framing any exhibition of queer history will inevitably hit the closet door.  The curators do a good job of implying desire rather than naming names.  Still, I couldn't help but draw a clear parallel to "Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera Since 1870" currently at SFMOMA.  As I learned from Hide/Seak, "spy" meant "homo" in the early twentieth century.   

 Lyle Ashton Harris " Brotherhood, Crossroads, Etcetera" 

Thomas Eakins "Salutat"

Grant Woods "Arnold Comes of Age"

Cass Bird "I Look Just Like My Dad"

Jack Pierson "Self Portrait #28"

Paul Cadmus "What I Believe"


  1. hehe....FINALLY !!!!

    I got to see the 'whole' exhibit. Did they still have the Elvis photography in the next gallery?

  2. They did but I passed it by. Any good?