Opens tomorrow, Saturday, October 30
The National Portrait Gallery presents the first major museum exhibition showing how questions of gender and sexual identity have dramatically shaped the creation of modern American portraiture. “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” will be on view through February 13, 2011.
Long before the advent of today’s gay and lesbian movement, many examples of art—paintings, sculptures, watercolors, prints, and photographs—acknowledged a variety of sexual identities. This exhibition features artists and sitters with a range of identities, from exclusively same-sex to exclusively heterosexual.
“The exhibition is titled ‘Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture’ because those with different sexual identities—who are of, but not fully a part of, the society they portrayed—occupied a position of influential marginality,” said NPG historian David C. Ward, who is also co-curator of the exhibition. “From this vantage point they crafted innovative and revolutionary ways of painting portraits. Society’s attempt to forbid them forced them to resist by developing new visual ways to code, disguise and express their subjects’ identities—and also their own.”
© Annie Leibovitz, 2010
Among the objects in the exhibition are Salutat by Thomas Eakins; Painting No. 47, Berlin by Marsden Hartley; Romaine Brooks’s 1923 oil-on-canvas self-portrait; Rrose Sélavy (Marcel Duchamp) by Man Ray; a photograph of Janet Flanner taken in 1927 by Berenice Abbott; Canto XIV by Robert Rauschenberg; We Two Boys Together Clinging by David Hockney; Troy Diptych and Camouflage Self-Portrait, both by Andy Warhol; Souvenir by Jasper Johns; Felix, June 5, 1994, by AA Bronson; and Ellen DeGeneres in Kauai, Hawaii, by Annie Leibovitz (shown above).
Co-curators of this exhibition are David C. Ward and Jonathan Katz, director of the doctoral program in visual studies, State University of New York at Buffalo.
The exhibition has been made possible by The Calamus Foundation with the leadership contributions of Donald A. Capoccia and Tommie L. Pegues, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional significant support is provided by many generous friends of the National Portrait Gallery, including the John Burton Harter Charitable Trust, E*TRADE, Ella Foshay, Vornado/Charles E. Smith, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, Catherine V. Dawson, Robby Browne and Madison Cumnock, The Durst Organization, Ashton Hawkins and Johnnie Moore, The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, The Morrison & Foerster Foundation, Occasions Caterers, the David Schwartz Foundation, Frank J. Sciame, Jonathan Sheffer and Christopher Barley, and Jon Stryker.
Frank O'Hara / Alice Neel / Oil on canvas, 1960 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Hartley S. Neel; © Estate of Alice Neel
James Baldwin / Beauford Delaney / Pastel on paper, 1963 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Ellen DeGeneres / Annie Leibovitz / Gelatin silver print, 1997 / Collection of the artist; © Annie Leibovitz, 2010
Janet Flanner / Berenice Abbott / Photographic print, 1927 / Prints and Photgraphs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. / © Berenice Abbott / Commerce Graphics Ltd., Inc.