QUEER BRI­TISH ART 1861-1967 Edited by Clare Barlow

DNA Magazine - - BOOKS -

Pub­lished to ac­com­pany a ma­jor new ex­hi­bi­tion at Tate Bri­tain in London, cu­ra­tor Clare Barlow has as­sem­bled im­pres­sive ex­pert con­trib­u­tors to write about as­pects of the fea­tured art for this com­pan­ion book.

There’s an in­tro­duc­tory es­say by trans aca­demic Jack Hal­ber­stam, an es­say from Neil Bartlett (au­thor, di­rec­tor and per­former) on the­atri­cal types, Neil McKenna writes on the Fanny and Stella court case (a sub­ject he de­voted an en­tire book to), and Ru­pert Smith con­trib­utes on physique pho­tog­ra­phy.

Smith is bet­ter known for the erotic nov­els he writes as James Lear, but back in 1997 he wrote a biography of John S Bar­ring­ton, a pi­o­neer­ing post-WWII pornog­ra­pher. There are also var­i­ous aca­demics writ­ing on their spe­cific ar­eas of ex­per­tise from the Blooms­bury set to Ar­ca­di­an­ism. Barlow opens the book with a fas­ci­nat­ing cri­tique of John Min­ton’s paint­ing of a White­hall Horse­guard (1953), point­ing out the ho­mo­sex­ual sub­text to the work. Other high­lights in­clude the sec­tion on artist Simeon Solomon, whose ca­reer was blighted when twice ar­rested in pub­lic lava­to­ries.

An in­ter­est­ing in­clu­sion is the art of play­wright Joe Or­ton and his lover Ken­neth Hal­li­well. The pair bor­rowed and stole books from the Is­ling­ton Li­brary, re­worked them with “col­laged in­ter­ven­tions” (trans­gres­sive new cover im­ages and con­tent), and then re­turned them to the shelves. Although ini­tially en­joyed by the staff, the cost of th­ese de­faced books mounted up, and the pair were even­tu­ally sent to prison for six months.

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