Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lost and Found: The Lesbian and Gay Presence at the Archives of American Art

Where: Archives of American Art

When: through February 13, 2011

First of all, who knew there was an Archives of American Art? I've never heard of this before, but I'll be keeping an eye out for exhibits from now on. The gallery is in the American Art Museum, on F Street, NW, in a nice well-light room. I just wandered around the museum until I found it, but now that I know where it is, I'll waste less time getting there the next time I visit.

I don't know if this show was timed to coincide with the Hide/Seek exhibit, but it dovetails nicely. It turns out that the archives is full of items by and about gay and lesbian artists, and some very interesting pieces are on display here. Items include letters, newspaper clippings, photographs (including some full frontal male nudity - leave your prudery at home!) and other artifacts. There's even a statement by David Wojnarowicz in a catalog for Witnesses: Against our Vanishing, a show put on in 1989 featuring works by artists suffering from or who had died of AIDS. The National Endowment for the Arts stopped funding for the exhibit due to Wojnarowicz's "inflammatory rhetoric," which led to outrage, which in turn led to the restoration of the funding. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun!

I was quite interested to see the photograph above, featuring Eleanor Roosevelt with Alain Locke. No mention was made of Roosevelt's own relationships with women, only of Locke's homosexuality.

Verdict: Go see this small show; it's only one room, so easy to see in a lunch hour. I've heard nothing in the press about this exhibit, so I'm assuming it's safe from those who would usher homosexuality firmly out the museum door.Add Image

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