5 Artworks That Explore Queer Issues and Identity
Most often, LGBTQ+ pride is shared with the rainbow symbol. While the rainbow signals shared identity, community and allegiance, lived experiences transcend symbols and slogans. In this pride month, P55.ART highlights artists whose work crosses the rainbow, in recognition that despite increased representation, many aspects of the queer experience are still invisible or one-dimensional.
1.Self-portrait with bobbed hair Frida Kahlo, 1940
This 1940s self-portrait is one of the first true examples of LGBT art. Below a few lines of text and music, we find the artist sitting in a chair, surrounded by her freshly cut hair. Scissors in hand but with an expression of calm assurance rather than utter despair in light of her lost femininity. This symbol of femininity, to which many cling to to signal and affirm their gender, is left aside by the confident Frida Kahlo. The artist defended that each one of us carries masculine and feminine qualities, encouraging us to face this plurality instead of denying it.
2.Two Men Dancing by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1984
Robert Mapplethorpe is known for his magnificent black and white portraits, which challenge his audience. Robert Mapplethorpe's career blossomed in the 1980s with commercial projects, creating album covers for Patti Smith and the band Television, as well as a series of portraits and party photos for Interview Magazine. After being diagnosed with AIDS (AIDS) in 1986, he accelerated his creative efforts and carried out increasingly ambitious projects. In 1988, a year before his death, he had his first major exhibition at The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. With Two Men Dancing, the dichotomy between masculine and feminine is affirmed, juxtaposing the hard and the gentle. As part of New York's S&M scene in the late 1970s, Mapplethorpe's images often went a step further, exploring the relationship between dominant and submissive, purity and "immorality", censorship and freedom, among other themes, something that this present in this work.
3.Bill T. Jones Body Painting by Keith Haring (with Tseng Kwong Chi), 1983
The body paintings of Keith Haring followed the artist's long tradition of avoiding canvases and constantly seeking unknown artistic territories. From the subway to the streets of New York, Keith Haring never been afraid to take Art out of its formal context! Bill T. Jones's 1983 photograph, in collaboration with photographer Tseng Kwong Chi, immortalizes a quite spectacular moment: the meeting of three artists, who combine photography, choreography and street art. In this case, the expressiveness of Bill T. Jones's dance is in conjunction with another type of expression, namely Haring's unique and enigmatic hieroglyphs. It was these artists who paved the way for queer art as we know it today.
4. Her Soft Lips Touched Mine and Everything became Hard Tracey Emin, 2008
British artist Tracey Emin's works are widely recognized as autobiographical, as they express her personal experiences as controversies and traumas. This is a constant in his career, whether in the controversial installation “Everyone I Ever Slept With” or in the love letters he has published, even the neon transcriptions of are no exception as they imitate his own handwriting. They remain intimate and deeply personal, capturing fleeting thoughts or unspoken desires. The message in this piece, titled “Her Soft Lips Touched Mine and Every Thing Became Hard,” is one of many. Another enigmatic example of LGBT art is the neon phrase: “I Loved You Like a Distant Star”. Although these works of art are not as visual as you urged, they continue within this tradition of unabashedly representing modern open-hearted love.Her confessional works had an important impact on the art world by normalizing feminist narratives. This opened the way for unconventional and trauma-induced experiences. Tracey Emin's approach continues to mislead many as she continually questions the institutions and conventions that maintain the status quo.
5. George the Cunt and Gilbert the Shit by Gilbert and George, 1969
The famous art duo Gilbert & George met while studying at Saint Martin's School of Art in London. Since then, the duo has been working collaboratively with a self-reflective 'living sculpture' approach to performance art. One of their first works together, “George the Cunt and Gilbert the Shit” epitomizes the couple's humor and anti-elitist approach to art. Later, Gilbert & George faced much criticism for the chosen themes. With nudity and explicit sexual acts at the center of their work, Gilbert & George has certainly redefined the extent of sexuality in formal art settings.