Art and Homosexuality. From von Gloeden to Pierre et Gilles
Palazzo della Ragione, Milan
Palazzina Reale di Santa Maria Novella, Florence
curated by Eugenio Viola, promoted by Vittorio Sgarbi
Milan 9th of July (it was opened, censored and immediately closed)
Florence, 26th of October 2007 / 6 th of January 2008
This exhibition, the most extensive of its kind ever staged in Italy, presents 220 artworks and over 150 artists in an investigation of the connections between art and homosexuality in the period stretching from the birth of photography through to the present day, ideally from Von Gloeden to Pierre et Gilles.
Originally organized for another city, Milan, and another venue, Palazzo della Ragione, the exhibition was censored immediately after the opening on 9th of July. It never opened its gates to the public and the catalogue was withdrawn. After a great scandal and a lot of political arguments the exhibition reopens on 26th of October in Florence, at Palazzina Reale of Santa Maria Novella. It is one of the most debated exhibitions of the past years.
The visual representation of subjects closely associated with homoeroticism is present throughout the history of humanity, although the cultural values it expresses and the underlying meanings are naturally the reflection of the specific historical and socio-cultural contexts. Scenes with homoerotic contents appear on the vases of ancient Greece and in the Persian bas-reliefs, at the dawn of eastern art, in the Italian Renaissance and in the Baroque period. A subtle fil rouge that by way of short circuits and fundamental passages reaches the present day, developing independently and long before the advent of the modern concept of gender’s diversity.
However, what should we identify with the term “homoerotic art”? Works created by artists of whose homosexuality we are certain and in which frequently, but not necessarily, we find something that references an homoerotic taste? Or should we consider the work of artists who are not officially homosexual but whose creations reveal an extraordinary eroticism that encourages such an interpretation? Departing from the homosexuality of an artist for the interpretation of his/her work triggers a series of particularly thorny questions. Knowledge of the (homo)sexual orientation of the artist generally alerts us to the possible presence of a metaphorical representation of homosexuality. What kind of relationship is established between the biography of the artist and the interpretation of his/her work?
The criteria for the selection of the works exhibited does not consider this relationship, but is instead based on the specific characteristics of the individual works, identifying, beyond the conventional identities of gender, a thematic strand within a common mode of feeling, of expressing states of being, attitudes and emotions, without any claim to define the canons of a “homosexual specific” within the art. On the basis of this approach, a number of works exhibit openly homoerotic contents, while in others this is expressed obliquely through specific codes, symbols, allusions, allegories and metaphors. An itinerary that from the Arcadian photographs of Baron von Gloeden explores the territories of homoerotic photography, from Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber to Mapplethorpe, from Jack Pierson to Bruce Labruce, with a glance at the camp aesthetic of James Bidgood revived in more recent years by David Lachapelle. Artists who are working in a historical period in which it is possible to freely treat gay, lesbian or transgender themes, presenting anxieties and questions that are preponderant and frequently crucial for much of the art of the end of the last century and the opening of the new millennium.
An exemplary itinerary of images through the evolution of perception and the consequent representation of existential diversity, from Carol Rama to David Hockney and Andy Warhol, by way of the roaming identities of Ugo Rondine, Yasumasa Moritura and EVA & ADELE, highlighting the work of the latest generation of artists who use homoerotic love as an expedient for questioning superstructures of race, desire, gender and sexual identity and braking down the conventional distinctions between art, eroticism and pornography.
Aubrey Beardsley, Alberto Abate, Paolo Arao, Agostino Arrivabene, Assume Vivid Astrofocus, Jacopo Benassi, Betty Bee, James Bidgood, Antje Blumenstein, Gary Lee Boas, Giovanbattista Brambilla, Bruce of Los Angeles, Daniele Buetti, Jeff Burton, Sylvano Bussotti, Maurizio Cannavacciuolo, Davide Cantoni, Paolo Cassarà, Jota Castro, Maurizio Cattelan, Larry Clark, ConiglioViola, Erwin David, Tamara de Lempicka, Filippo de Pisis, Gabriel de la Mora, Mc Dermott, Sebastiano Deva, Giulio Durini, EVA&ADELE, Leonor Fini, Giorgia Fiorio, Fischerspooner, Samuel Fosso, Franko B., Jim French, Anna Fusco, Francesca Galliani, Ryan Mc Ginley, Luis Gispert and Jeffrey Reed, Nicola Gobbetto, Nan Goldin, Steven Gontarski, Ettore Greco, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Keith Haring, David Hilliard, David Hockney, Harry Holland, Francesco Impellizzeri, Anna Keen, John Kirby, Micha Klein, Steven Klein, Bruce Labruce, David LaChapelle, Mark Lackey, Annika Larsson, Alex Lee, Christian Leperino, Ma Liuming, Philip Lorca di Corcia, Robert Mapplethorpe, Mataro Da Vergato, Bas Meerman, Claus Mehrkens, Moio&Sivelli, Pierre Molinier, Claudio Monnini, Yasumasa Moritura, Maria Mulas, Barbara Nahmad, Helmut Newton, Erwin Olaf, Luigi Ontani, Gonzalo Orquin, Paco y Manolo, Camilla Paternò e Matteo Basilè, Paul P., Philip Pearlstein, Dino Pedriali, Kembra Phaler and Bruce Labruce, Tony Patrioli, Walter Picardi, Pierre et Gilles, Jack Pierson, Pasquale Piscitelli, Carol Rama, Terry Richardson, Herb Ritts, Terry Rodgers, Ugo Rondinone, Rosy Rox, Thomas Ruff, Sam Taylor-Wood, Dean Sameshima, Matteo Sanna, Livio Scarpella, Paolo Schmidlin, Collier Schorr, Luigi Serafini, Marcello Severi, Marco Silombria, Natalie Silva, Alix Smith, Paul M Smith., Alex Tennigkeit, Mario Testino, Giovanni Testori, Tom of Finland, Ikè Udè, Wilhelm von Gloeden, Wilhelm von Pluschow, Andy Warhol, Bruce Weber, Paul West, Joel Peter Witkin, Young Elizabeth
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