Once again dear reader I am influenced by my current topic of study, in this case the chilling effects caused by the Cold War, the House Un-american Activities Committee, and McCarthyism. I chose to explore gay American artists during this period and how they responded to the societal pressures of conformity and repression, personal, and aesthetic.
I will not bore you with the essay, just provide a scrap book of images.
I confess I knew little of Beauford, I found his story most touching, his struggles with racism, homophobia, depression, loneliness very poignant.
I did not include this later work in my project, but I have long enjoyed the image.
I really enjoy how this painting reminds me of Boucher, the subject like a strange retelling of the Moses myth. Cadmus seems to have been a happy man; 35 years with the handsome Jon Anderson serving as muse and companion certainly had something to do with that.
I love how until recently, the closeted Johns made use of secrets.The cast body parts only revealed upon lifting the little doors. the great visual irony being the target symbol, screaming for attention yet hiding truths from view.
It is a great irony that the two Pop geniuses Johns and Rauschenberg, boyfriends for some time, tried to distance themselves from Warhol, who they found “too swish”.
This attitude not unlike the macho posturing of the Abstract Expressionists.
It is too difficult to not notice the visual/verbal humor that the closeted Warhol was exploring. Early Pop paintings by Warhol were first exhibited as a sort of artistic window dressing for the department store Bonwit Teller in in the spring of ’61. Rauschenberg and Johns had also exhibited their work in this manner. It is little wonder that the virile Abstract Expressionists dismissed the Pop movement.
The Greatest Homosexual
Ostensibly not homosexual although his boyfriend the poet Frank O’Hara might find the argument flimsy. It doesn’t matter, this twice married , father of five libertine, in many ways best expressed gay sensibilities. Be it his wry parody of David’s The Emperor Napoleon in his Study at the Tuileries ,1812 (above), or his sensitive portrayal of O’Hara (below) ;River’s painting satisfy.
As space was limited I did not include many of the artists I would have liked. I will fasten a few more that I particularly admire.
George Platt Lynes
Nicholas Magallanes and Francisco Moncion in NY Ballet production of Orpheus
I love how this East Orange N.J. boy, with his flamboyantly gay imagery became Kinsey’s “go-to-gay” whenever he needed something decidedly queer.
He certainly found the right fellow.
Minor Martin White
The deeply conflicted White, perhaps bisexual, perhaps gay, spent his life tormented by his desire. This image of the incredibly handsome Bright gives us an inkling of that torment; Bright is almost available, teetering upon the rocky precipice, just out of desire’s reach.
I end this exploration of American Cold War Homo Artists with a Brit; a Brit who seems to have great affection for our country, at least sunny southern California.
I have always found this painting sweetly touching and uplifting, I thought it a fitting end piece.