Art & Queer Culture
Catherine Lord & Richard Meyers, PHAIDON ($95)
Art & Queer Culture is a fantastic new publication from Phaidon, and I am truly pleased that it exists. The format is quite similar to the titles released by Phaidon as part of the Themes and Movements series: clean, beautiful, and brilliant content-wise. Editors/authors Catherine Lord and Richard Meyers have done a quite a job collating material for this resource, because it is a veritable treasure trove of important works existing in the intersections of art history and queer culture.
Lord and Meyer separate the subject overview into three sections. The first, a survey essay examining the interplay between art and dissident sexualities, from the emergence of homosexuality as an identity in the late nineteenth century to the pioneering ‘genderqueers’ of the early twenty-first. The second, the Works section, presents over 220 key artworks, each with an informative caption. The final section, containing an impressive archive of documents, including artists’ statements, reviews, manifestos, essays and critical writing, amazed me. This is the material that you would really have to seek out; if you were aware it even existed in the first place that is.
Something to keep in mind: the chronological order of this expansive archive should not indicate any type of progressive narrative to queers’ adeptness at negotiating censorship or stigma. Linearity is broken by a number of factors; the history’s inclusive nature showcasing everything from ‘high’ art to ‘low’ culture as well as the evolving practices in response to the politics of queer culture – subversion and queer deviancy are drawn out alongside affirmations of equality and assimilation.
Anna Libeau, Unity Wellington