Art after Stonewall, 1969 – 1989 to Open at Grey Art Gallery & Leslie-Lohman Museum in April




Adam Rolston, I Am Out Therefore I Am, 1989. Crack and peel sticker, 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 in. Courtesy the artist

As part of Stonewall 50,  NYU/Grey Art Gallery and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art announced a major exhibition, examining  the impact of the LGBTQ movement on visual arts and culture this April, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprisings.

The exhibition will feature over 200 works of art and related visual materials exploring the impact of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) liberation movement on visual culture, presented in two parts ~ at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery, and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.

Diana Davies, Untitled (Marsha P. Johnson Hands Out Flyers for Support of Gay Students at N.Y.U.), c. 1970. Digital print. 11 x 14 inches (27.94 x 35.56 cm). Photo: Diana Davies/© The New York Public Library/Art Resource, NY

Art after Stonewall is organized in seven sections. The first, Coming Out, explores how post-Stonewall LGBTQ artists addressed the imperative to reject hiding their sexual identity. Sexual Outlaws extends the concept of visibility to works of art that radically challenge mainstream concepts of decorum and decency, considering artworks with blatant sexual content from a new vantage point. Inspired by Audre Lorde’s eponymous 1983 essay, The Uses of the Erotic examines how LGBTQ artists re-conceptualized both sex and the sensual. Consistent with Lorde’s view that women’s sense of the erotic is not defined by genital contact, artworks in this section convey a body-like physicality and sensuality. Gender and Body reveals how cross-dressing and gender-bending influenced art of the 1970s and 80s, and features works by artists who employed gender as performance as they negotiated a new world with more fluid identities and sexualities. Things Are Queerexplores how the concept of queerness was developed as a way to resist categorizing people as straight or gay, female or male. If Stonewall represented liberation and the imperative to come out, new generations of LGBTQ artists were increasingly suspicious of categories. AIDS and Activism observes how an epidemic that was initially viewed as a disease of homosexuals affected the gay community, artistic communities, and the world in general. The works in the final section We’re Here celebrate how, by the end of the 1980s, LGBTQ people had permeated and influenced all aspects of everyday life: queerness could no longer be marginalized in American culture.

Fred McDarrah, Celebration After Riots Outside Stonewall Inn, Nelly (Betsy Mae Koolo), Chris (Drag Queen Chris), Roger Davis, Michelle and Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, June 1969, 1969. Gelatin silver print, 8 1/2 x 11 in. Collection Pavel Zoubok. Courtesy Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York. Photo: Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images

Art after Stonewall resists systematic classifications or traditional notions of what is a work of art. Crucial queer cultural practices were created beyond the institutions of the art world,” observes curator Jonathan Weinberg. “Cutting across disciplines and hierarchies of media and taste, this exhibition mixes performance, photographs, painting, sculpture, film clips, video, and music with historic documents and images taken from magazines, newspapers, and television.”

LGBTQ artists will include Vaginal Davis, Louise Fishman, Nan Goldin, Lyle Ashton Harris, Barbara Hammer, Holly Hughes, Greer Lankton, Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, Joan Snyder, and Andy Warhol.

Gran Fury, Riot, 1989. Sticker, 5 x 3 1/2 in. Courtesy of Carpenter Center for Visual Arts / Harvard Art Museum

The Stonewall Uprisings, in historian Martin Duberman’s words, “are now generally taken to mark the birth of the modern gay and lesbian political movement… As such, ‘Stonewall’ has become an empowering symbol of global proportions.” Much has been written on the impact of the LGBTQ movement on American society and yet, fifty years after Stonewall, key artists in that story and their works are little known. Art after Stonewall brings together an unprecedented number of artists and activists in dialogue with LGBTQ issues. Art after Stonewall juxtaposes works—many of which elude categorization—and music with historical documents and images taken from magazines, newspapers, and television. In fact, the ambition and scope of the exhibition is so grand, it is presented across two New York venues, loosely divided chronologically. The presentation at the Leslie-Lohman Museum concentrates on work from the first decade after the events of Stonewall, and the Grey Art Gallery focuses on the second decade.

Grey Art Gallery Director Lynn Gumpert adds, “Considering the Grey is located in the heart of Greenwich Village, we are thrilled to be joining with Leslie-Lohman to celebrate the diverse group of artists and activists who intersected with and contributed to the modern LGBTQ movement. Art after Stonewall is a crucial contribution to our growing understanding of that watershed moment in civil rights.”

As Gonzalo Casals, Executive Director of the Leslie-Lohman Museum, notes, “We are very proud to present this important exhibition on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots. We believe that shows like Art after Stonewall play an important role in bringing visibility to our communities, expanding the understanding of the history of our city, and empowering newer generations of queer individuals to continue to fight for LGBTQ civil rights. Our collaboration with NYU’s Grey Art Gallery allows us to expand the reach of the exhibition’s message beyond our community, as LGBTQ history is New York history.”

Keith Haring, National Coming Out Day, 1988. Offset lithograph, 26 x 23 in. © Keith Haring Foundation

The exhibition is curated by Jonathan Weinberg, Tyler Cann, and Drew Sawyer, and organized by the Columbus Museum of Art and is accompanied by a fully-illustrated 300-page catalogue with essays by more than 20 established and emerging scholars and artists, including Anna Conlan, Andrew Durbin, Harmony Hammond, Richard Meyer, Alpesh Patel, Flavia Rando, Christopher Reed, Chris Vargas, and Margaret Rose Vendryes. The catalogue is published by Rizzoli Electa.

Art after Stonewall, 1969 – 1989 will be on view from April 24 to July 20, 2019.  Grey Art Gallery located at 100 Washington Square East, Greenwich Village, with an Opening Reception  on April 23rd from 6-8pm.  Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is located at 26 Wooster Street, Soho.

Related programming and events at the New York Public Library, Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50.

Follow World Pride NYC ~ Stonewall 50 ~ June 2019