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

October 29, 2010 – February 13, 2011

Archives of American Art Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery
8th and F Streets, NW
Washington, DC

Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery, Reynolds Center, 1st Floor, East

This exhibition presents glimpses into the sometimes private, sometimes "out" lives, careers, and communities of gay American artists through letters, photographs, unpublished writings, and rare printed material. Lesbian and gay artists have made a strong imprint on American arts -- visual, literary, and performing arts -- for at least two centuries. Many of the artists in this exhibition belonged to creative communities that were unusually welcoming to nonconformist gender roles. As well, many were the first in American history to live openly well before the modern lesbian and gay civil rights movement; and yet even into the late 20th century, many artists did not feel safe to talk and write about their sexuality except with other members of their community, if at all. The materials on view reveal the sharp contrast between the past generation's guarded expression of love and the new generation's openness that they view as imperative to their creativity.