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- A Passion for Books
- Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture
- Storytelling: Critical and Creative Approaches
- Hide & Seek
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A Passion for Books
They are made a pair, yet in build, attitude, expression, position, equally made opposites in nearly every way-and they are the focal point of this image. All around them, the other men are unaware of this interaction. Careful not to look around, self-contained, and lost in thought, these other men behave in public as they would in private. Only one other figure in the image, the man at the lower left of the pool, is aware that this scene of public nudity is indeed public: he looks at us as we look at him.
And through his intercession, we catch ourselves, made aware that in peeping into a men's shower bath, we, too, have violated the social code that dictates downcast eyes.
Like the odd couple in the center, we, too have peeked. The Shower-Bath pl. And its forward homoeroticism, strange in any American artwork before the last two decades or so, is stranger still in a print, for unlike paintings-which need only one sympathetic buyer-as multiples, prints must appeal to a large populace.
This particular print, unusually, went through three editions, in three slightly variant states-testimony to its wide popularity. A print with a homosexual erotic theme would not earn a place on the walls of most American homes or museums even today, and this print is almost a century old. How can we account for its existence, much less its critical and commercial success? One approach, following the contemporary scholarship on Bellows, would be to simply ignore the homoeroticism at the center of this image and assume contemporary audiences did likewise.
Strikingly, in the voluminous literature on Bellows, this print has never before been addressed in terms of its same-sex dynamics. Alternatively we could attempt a biographical argument and claim that Bellows was probably gay, choosing an image of interest to himself and perhaps others like him. But there is no evidence of Bellows's intimacy with men, and much evidence of his devotion to his wife and children, whom he repeatedly drew and painted.
Moreover, this print stands as one of but a handful of Bellows's works with homoerotic elements. Alternatively, we could read the image as a marketing gambit in which a non-homosexual artist seeks to feed a homosexual audience hungry for representations of same-sex desire. But if that were the case, we would presumably encounter evidence of the existence of such an art market in the period, stocked by similarly homoerotic images by other artists-and we don't.
While the theme of The Shower-Bath confounds our expectations of early-twentiethcentury American art in almost every regard, there is one framework that makes sense. Instead of approaching this homosexual encounter from the perspective of our contemporary expectations and assumptions, if we reconstruct the social world of same-sex desire in the early twentieth century, we will find that, paradoxically, this is not a scene of queer subculture at all.
Navy roughly contemporaneous with The Shower Bath, among other sources, allows us a glimpse into the social organization of same-sex desire.
Under the then-prevailing cultural standards, only men who were passive erotically, contravening the gendered behavioral norms of their sex, were in fact queer.
The volunteers-"trade" in the parlance of the times-and the navy brass who solicited their assistance, thus had no qualms about assigning teenagers to such duty, because no matter what happened between them and the targets of their investigation, as long as they were in the active role, their traditional masculinity was in no way compromised.
Sexual identity, in short, was premised not on the gender of one's sexual partner, but rather one's own gendered role in the sex act. Thus, it was entirely possible for a man to maintain erotic relationships with his own sex and not be thought, or think himself, queer, provided he assumed the normatively masculine role.
If anything, such an offer would be taken as a tribute to his self-evident, utterly "normal" masculinity. Thus, by then predominant definitions, there is only one queer figure in Bellows's print, and the widespread acknowledgment of his presence was hardly as socially disruptive or marked as it would be today. In contrast, under our contemporary sexual system, wherein we assume both partners in a same-sex coupling are homosexual, for one man to solicit another man is to suggest that he perceives the other man to be queer, too.
In a culture that equates same-sex sexuality with unmanliness, that is an assumption too often met with violence. In short, circa , a work such as The Shower-Bath would have illustrated a familiar, rather unremarkable scene in a public bath. The locale is important, for bathhouses, before the routine availability of warm-water indoor plumbing, served significant hygienic, social, and sexual purposes. Within their walls, queer and straight men would routinely meet.
In The Shower-Bath, the thin man's handon-hip effeminacy, leering glance, and proffered buttocks make him a stereotype to be sure, but one not so dangerous as to be excised from representation entirely. Similarly, the masculine character of the trade, or top man, is a careful study in social dynamics.
While it was socially acceptable to penetrate a queer, masculinity demanded that he appear neither too eager nor too emotionally involved. Queers, after all, were tolerable stand-ins for women, but not objects of desire in and of themselves. Aided and abetted by great wealth-Brooks was a millionaire many times over when a million was a good deal more money than it is todaythe masculine appearance of women like Brooks and Gertrude Stein was indexed to their assumption of a masculine social role, which is to say, assuming a public, not a domestic profile.
As Money, talent, social power, and access meant that figures such as Brooks and Stein could compete successfully in a man's world on its own terms. Such a claim, unlike that of "passing" women, poses a real threat to traditional masculinity in arguing for a definition of masculinity irrespective of biological sex.
The Napoleonic penal code had decriminalized same-sex eroticism in France as early as , but in the States, the first decades of the twentieth century instead witnessed a substantial increase in promotion of "social hygiene. During its heyday in the United States anti-venereal disease campaigns were hardly the movement's sole purpose, and its episodic public morality crusades occasionally made life difficult for those who contravened gender norms.
Moreover, "public hygiene" operations tended to involve the police, while spurring outbreaks of religious, juridical, and medical zealotry, and a general, low level of harassment. Even outside these occasional crusades, life for American queers wasn't easy. Among men, as the pictorial evidence underscores, sexual encounters were routinely available, but sustaining emotional bonds much less so.
In short, to be queer in the United States in the early decades of the twentieth century was to be socially and legally vulnerable and faintly abnormal. But-and this is the key difference from contemporary definitions-since sexual difference had yet to coalesce as an identity stricture and thus forge a collective politics, it was subject to far less intense social sanction. As a result, there was less incentive to write queerness out of the sphere of public representation, or perhaps, better said, to paint it out.
Fund He's buttoning up his trousers, a self-satisfied look on his face, positioned such that a Krema advertisement featuring a large tongue is juxtaposed with his crotch. The photograph thus revels in its overdetermined queer coding, practically daring the viewer to fail to interpret its many indices of gay identity. As such, it also constitutes a pictorial revelation of its subject's proclivities, a collaboration between subject and artist that enables an art of the surface, of the superficial, to bear a deeper charge.
That almost no name in this book will be unfamiliar is itself a sign of how firmly canonical our choice of artists has been. Our goal is not to challenge the register of great American artists, but rather to underscore how sexuality informed their practice in the ways we routinely accept for straight artists. By no means intended as encyclopedic, this work by necessity omits a large number of artists, either because of their comparatively low profile or because they or their estates objected to their inclusion.
It is no surprise to note that even in , the public articulation of an artist's sexuality remains fraught, in part because, as publicly traded commodities, the value of an artwork depends on a critical consensus.
Some claim, we think mistakenly, that the public declaration of an artist's sexuality will damage that artist's market. But although we have tried to show sensitivity to such concerns, wherever possible we have also tried to work around them, for such censorship can only still the advance of art-historical knowledge.
Sexuality, as we understand it here, is not a private matter, but a question governing the means of representation. Were an artist's private sexual behavior the only indication of their sexuality, they would not be in this book. Rather, we have used sexuality as a lens to examine some key works in American art precisely because it was visible. While sexuality has long been deployed in this manner by art historians, it has generally done so in ways that conformed to dominant social codes.
As a case in point, the import of Picasso's mistresses to his artistic development has long been the stuff of uncontroversial art-historical investigation, a fit subject for exhibitions in major museums from New York to Sydney.
Yet this book accompanies the very first exhibition in a major museum in this country to attempt a similar investigation for artists inclined toward their own sex. While we have tried to represent a diverse group of artists, our emphasis on canonical figures has worked against our desire for inclusivity. Even today, the art world is too often closed to women and ethnic and racial minorities; in the past, that tendency was amplified.
While we could have chosen to focus on a more diverse group of artists, our goal has been to address the role of sexual difference within the American mainstream, both as a means of underscoring the hypocrisy of the current post-Mapplethorpe anxiety about referencing same-sex desire in the museum world and toward scrutinizing the widely held but utterly unsupportable assumption that same-sex desire is at best tangential to the history of American art.
We have also chosen to understand portraiture in the most expansive sense, as anything from the portrait of an individual to the portrait of a community. How, in the United States of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, did sexual behavior evolve into sexual identity, from what you did to what you were, and how, as the twentieth century shaded into the twenty-first, has sexual identity increasingly morphed back into sexual behavior?
Early archival evidence of same-sex desire in the United States-most of it from police logs and jury trials-is notably weak in both writing style and descriptive detail, preferring to let terms like "sex crime," "deviance," or "perversion" do most of the expressive work. But because visual art did not have to name, judge, and categorize, it could make use of the simple fact that images at once addressed multiple audiences with multiple skills, experiences, and competencies. And as long as the representation of the unrepresentable existed in the shadows, it could bank on the fact that the failure to notice queerness was always socially acceptable, while correct identification carried the taint of an alwayssuspect private erudition, if not actual experience.
As a result, while detailed literary sources about queer life prior to the mid-twentieth century are scarce, we have literally thousands of imagespaintings, sculptures, watercolors, prints, films, and photographs-that eloquently attest to forms of sexual desire and association long before the advent of our modern lesbian and gay identity and its often policed, and occasionally violent, segregation of gay from straight.
Of all of these artworks, the most eloquent are the portraits, as portraiture is dedicated to searching revelation, sometimes even against the sitter's will. At the same time, a portrait is never merely documentary, but a social performance-it exists, after all, to be publicly seen. But how an artist wants to be seen and how a sitter wants to be seen are not always the same thing, and a portrait is often the product of a tense negotiation between the two.
At historical moments when same-sex desire was literally a crime and the ramifications of revealing sexual difference could be great, it is striking that we can offer no coherent trajectory in the representation of sexuality from oppression and enforced silence to openness and celebration. Indeed, one of the most conspicuous aspects of this book is its refusal to frame queer history as moving in one direction only, toward ever-growing tolerance and social acceptance.
In portraiture, it's not at all unusual to find strikingly frank early depictions of sexual difference followed by works that invent ever more baroque means to tiptoe around what could no longer be comfortably represented. Portraiture plays a key role toward understanding sexual differences in a world not yet divided between homosexuals and heterosexuals, a world where the concept of "having " a sexuality did not yet exist.
It helps us answer not only the question of what same-sex desire signified socially and how it was marked but also, by implication, how critical an aspect of character it was deemed to be in the accurate portrayal of a sitter. Historical backgroundWhen, fed up with years of police harassment, a group of lesbians, drag queens, kids of color, and other social marginals with little to lose, finally rioted at New York's Stonewall Inn for three days in June , they pushed into prominence the notion of modern gay and lesbian community as separated, even segregated, from the norm and loosely defined around a set of common differences from the straight world.
Although the art world contained such coherent communities long before Stonewall, these arts-oriented gay and lesbian communities were conjoined more properly by another difference-in-commoni. What the Stonewall riots did, then, was act as a catalyst for a widespread understanding of sexuality according to a model of minority-group politics, with all the mappings of subculture-codes of dress, speech, behavior, consumerism, even neighborhood-that subculture implies.
These newly articulated "minority" differences weren't new; they merely grew in prominence alongside a liberationist discourse with roots in the civil rights and antiwar movements, which sought to ground sexual freedom in the constitutionally protected category of difference.
Eakins was without a doubt a star at the academy, but already stormclouds were gathering over his reputation. A month later, in a four-page letter that was an elaborately kind attempt to soften the blow, Coates rejected Swimming and selected another painting from Eakins, claiming that "the present canvas is to me admirable in many ways but I am inclined to believe that some of the pictures you have are even more representative.
You must not suppose from this that I depreciate the present work-such is not the case. It is tempting to contravene Coates and note how "representative" Swimming actually is. In a article, Elizabeth Johns specifically names Eakins as Whitman's twentyninth bather, but in so doing, she also worries over the propensity "to use pictures to gratify contemporary hunger to know-or a least to speculate on-the precise sexual orientation of our predecessors.
Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture
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Storytelling: Critical and Creative Approaches
Baas is one of the most influential Dutch designers of the early 21st century. His conceptual, humoristic, rebellious and theatrical designs can be found where art and design meet. On show in the exhibition will be pieces from his Clay collection and Grandfather Clock, as well as his graduation collection Smoke, which brought him world renown. Maarten Baas will also be creating new work especially for the exhibition.
Hide & Seek
Hide-and-seek is a popular children's game in which at least two players usually at least three  conceal themselves in a set environment, to be found by one or more seekers. The game is played by one player chosen designated as being "it" closing their eyes and counting to a predetermined number while the other players hide. After reaching this number, the player who is "it" calls "Ready or not, here I come! The game can end in one of several ways.
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Но это невозможно. У нее перехватило дыхание. Единственным кандидатом в подозреваемые был Грег Хейл, но Сьюзан могла поклясться, что никогда не давала ему свой персональный код. Следуя классической криптографической процедуре, она выбрала пароль произвольно и не стала его записывать.
Три… три… Беккера словно еще раз ударило пулей, выпущенной из пистолета. Мир опять замер. Три… три… три… 238 минус 235. Разница равна трем. Он медленно потянул к себе микрофон.
Итак, твой диагноз? - потребовал. Сьюзан на минуту задумалась. - Склонность к ребячеству, фанат сквоша с подавляемой сексуальностью.
Ей надо было выкупить билет на самолет - если найдется свободное место перед вылетом.