Monday, October 29, 2007

Arte e omosessualità

Art and homosexuality posterThe exhibition Art and Homosexuality, from Van Gloeden to Pierre et Gilles opened last Saturday in Florence, Italy. Until 6 January 2008, 220 works by 150 artists will be on display in the Royal Palace.

The exhibition, originally organized for another city, Milan, and another venue, Palazzo della Ragione, reopens now in Florence after the censorship that closed it immediately after its opening in July this year.

Promoted by Vittorio Sgarbi, curated by Eugenio Viola and organized by Artematica, this exhibition, the most extensive of its kind ever staged in Italy, presents an investigation of the connections between art and homosexuality in the period stretching from the birth of photography through to the present day.

The visual representation of subjects closely associated with homoeroticism is present throughout the history of humanity, although the cultural values it expresses and the underlying meanings are naturally the reflection of the specific historical and socio-cultural contexts. Scenes with homoerotic contents appear on the vases of ancient Greece and in the Persian bas-reliefs, at the dawn of eastern art, in the Italian Renaissance and in the Baroque period. A subtle fil rouge that by way of short circuits and fundamental passages reaches the present day, developing independently and long before the advent of the modern concept of gender’s diversity.

However, what should we identify with the term “homoerotic art”? Works created by artists of whose homosexuality we are certain and in which frequently, but not necessarily, we find something that references an homoerotic taste? Or should we consider the work of artists who are not officially homosexual but whose creations reveal an extraordinary eroticism that encourages such an interpretation? Departing from the homosexuality of an artist for the interpretation of his/her work triggers a series of particularly thorny questions. Knowledge of the (homo)sexual orientation of the artist generally alerts us to the possible presence of a metaphorical representation of homosexuality. What kind of relationship is established between the biography of the artist and the interpretation of his/her work?

The criteria for the selection of the works exhibited does not consider this relationship, but is instead based on the specific characteristics of the individual works, identifying, beyond the conventional identities of gender, a thematic strand within a common mode of feeling, of expressing states of being, attitudes and emotions, without any claim to define the canons of a “homosexual specific” within the art. On the basis of this approach, a number of works exhibit openly homoerotic contents, while in others this is expressed obliquely through specific codes, symbols, allusions, allegories and metaphors. An itinerary that from the Arcadian photographs of Baron von Gloeden explores the territories of homoerotic photography, from Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber to Mapplethorpe, from Jack Pierson to Bruce Labruce, with a glance at the camp aesthetic of James Bidgood revived in more recent years by David Lachapelle. Artists who are working in a historical period in which it is possible to freely treat gay, lesbian or transgender themes, presenting anxieties and questions that are preponderant and frequently crucial for much of the art of the end of the last century and the opening of the new millennium.

An exemplary itinerary of images through the evolution of perception and the consequent representation of existential diversity, from Carol Rama to David Hockney and Andy Warhol, by way of the roaming identities of Ugo Rondine, Yasumasa Moritura and Eva & Adele, highlighting the work of the latest generation of artists who use homoerotic love as an expedient for questioning superstructures of race, desire, gender and sexual identity and braking down the conventional distinctions between art, eroticism and pornography.

See Also:
Art and Homosexuality - cplonline (includes pictures)

Art and Homosexuality.
From Von Gloeden to Pierre et Gilles

Palazzina Reale of Santa Maria Novella
Piazza Adua 50
Florence, Italy
27 October 2007 – 6 January 2008

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