Paul Thek And His Circle In The 1950s April 12 - July 7, 2013 Co-curated by Jonathan David Katz and Peter Harvey
Opening reception: Friday, April 12, 2013, 6 to 8 pm
(New York, January 11, 2013) On April 12, 2013, the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art will open a groundbreaking new exhibition: Paul Thek And His Circle In The 1950s, which for the first time, examines the iconic American artist as a young man, placing him within a group of friends and lovers that provided an adoring audience and creative influence for his earliest works. The exhibition will cover the period of this artist’s work from 1954 to 1964, presenting a rare insight into the world of Paul Thek, not previously explored in any other major exhibition of his work.
The exhibit is co-curated by the internationally renowned expert on gay art, Jonathan David Katz, and by the notable set designer Peter Harvey, with whom Paul Thek had an early romantic relationship and a life-long friendship.
While Paul Thek became both famous and infamous in the mid-to-late 1960s for his “Meat Pieces” (handmade slabs of realistic-looking flesh encased in plastic), the work created by Thek earlier in his career revealed a very different artist: a precociously sensitive draftsman who captured his lover asleep naked, making work that was both openly gay and often manifestly erotic.
Thek’s circle was comprised of other gay artists and cultural figures, many of who would develop into familiar, iconic, artists as well, including the photographer Peter Hujar and the painter Joseph Raffael. Besides work by Hujar and Raffael, the exhibition will include work by other artists from his circle including Wilber Pippin, Theodore Newman, Peter Harvey and Paul Fisher. All were in their early 20s when they met and over time their relationships ranged from friendships to love affairs and settled back into friendships. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the circle of gay artists around Thek was how often and explicitly they represented, influenced, referenced, and otherwise engaged one another in their works: Hujar photographed Thek and Raffael, Thek drew Harvey, and in turn Harvey’s theatrical designs influenced Thek’s subsequent installation art.
The exhibition presents work created in the mid-1950s when the Lavender Scare was underway and homosexuality was repeatedly and publicly demonized. Despite the threat, this group of openly gay artists unabashedly connected their work and their sexuality, seemingly unconcerned with how blatantly gay work would be received or influence their professional reputations. None of these men ever made even the slightest attempt at the time to obscure their homosexuality.
This exhibition argues that it was this early circle of friends and lovers that created the defining audience for their works, setting them on the path to become the artists they subsequently became. By extension, this exhibition argues for the enabling power of a culture of same sex desire for the development of Thek’s much American art.
Paul Thek And His Circle In The 1950s will be on exhibit at the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, 26 Wooster Street, New York, NY from April 12, 2013 to July 7, 2013. An opening reception will be held on April 12, 2013 from 6 to 8 pm at the museum.
Photo: Peter Hujar - Paul Thek, Nude, Astride Zebra
Beautiful Creatures brings together three artists: doyen of New American cinema Jack Smith (1932–1989); leading contemporary Australian photographer Bill Henson (b. 1955); and Jacqueline Fraser (b. 1956), who has presented temporary installations and wall-based works in New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the USA since the late 1970s. Each treats the youthful body as a form of aesthetic material, creating striking tableaux that connect with the viewer expressly through the effects of the visual. Updating and complicating the freighted history of the figure in art, these artists exploit the material and structural qualities of their media. They immerse the viewer in a seductive atmospheric, to both animate desire and hint at the larger forces within which visual pleasure operates.
A benchmark in the history of the New American cinema, Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures (1962-63) was the subject of controversy from the very beginning of its public life. Yet Smith intended Flaming Creatures to be a comedy. A jubilant celebration of carnal fantasy set as an intentionally startling version of Orientalist exotica, the film eschews conventional narrative to depict a pantheon of gorgeous and ambiguously gendered ‘creatures’—male, female, and transvestite—in a loosely connected series of joyously erotic tableaux.
Fifteen large colour photographs by Bill Henson from his “Untitled” 1998/1999/2000 series feature androgynous young men and women staged in murkily lit locations that hint at goings-on never made explicit. These laconic figures—louche outsiders and ingénue gamines—are the epitome of cool caught with all the suggestiveness of artful cinematography. The mood they arouse cannot be pinned down or truly satisfied. Framed on the fringes of some dark, possibly wasted urban landscape, they conjure a particularly contemporary discontent.
Jacqueline Fraser’s THE MAKING OF THE CIAO MANHATTAN TAPES, 2013, is the latest manifestation of a 3-D practice which combines collages—copied and torn from magazines and embellished with fabric and other materials—with projected images, sound, sculptural elements, designer furniture and lighting, to produce an immersive environment. Hypersensitive to the lure of contemporary consumer culture, Fraser identifies points of conjunction between the visual repertoires of high art, design, and fashion and mainstream pop culture. She references the cult film Ciao! Manhattan (1972, directed by John Palmer and David Weisman) which loosely fictionalises the tumultuous life of Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol’s first superstar, whose upper-class dysfunction and legendary beauty turned her into the 60s art world’s first celebrity and one of its more incandescent casualties.
These are the two pieces I’m showing at POLARI in Seattle. It’s a queer art show that’s part of a bigger queer music festival called MO-WAVE. I love that the curator picked something for tops and bottoms both.
Yoshida Minoru, Bisexual Flower, 1969. Plexiglas, motors, electrical circuitry, ultraviolet tubes, bath salts, water, and sound, diameter: 380 cm, height: 175 cm. Installation view; Gutai: Splendid Playground, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Estate of Yoshida Minoru, Japan. Photo: David Heald.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Gutai: Splendid Playground Public Programs
On view now through May 8th.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Fifth Avenue at 89th Street New York, NY
Rezidentz Collective is pleased to bring you the opening reception of: *Nothing Lasts Forever: Making Sense of the Mess* The insatiable consumption of everything - products, people, resources, and all that lies between - leaves a mess. Broken souls, discarded electronics, last night’s dinner, the only thing our throw-away culture is certain to create is waste. What meaning can we make of this?
Rezidentz Collective hosts a night of meaning that has been made from the mess. Featuring 2-D art, circuit bending devices and recycled glass blowing.
Artwork by: asThMatic
Erik R. Peterson
REZIDENTZ IS LOCATED AT 3145 S. MORGAN ST. (IN BRIDGEPORT). CHICAGO, IL.