WASHINGTON, DC.- The Smithsonians 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 at the museum Oct. 30 through Feb. 13, 2011.
Long before the advent of todays gay and lesbian movement there were many examples of artpaintings, sculptures, water colors, prints and photographsthat acknowledged a variety of sexual identities. This exhibition features artists and sitters with a range of identities, from exclusively same-sex to exclusively heterosexual.
Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture will consider such themes as the role of sexual difference in depicting modern Americans, how artists have explored the definition of sexuality and gender, how major themes in modern artespecially abstractionwere influenced by this form of marginalization and how art reflected societys changing attitudes.
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 portrayedoccupied a position of influential marginality, said David C. Ward, co-curator of the exhibition and National Portrait Gallery historian. From this vantage point they crafted innovative and revolutionary ways of painting portraits. Societys attempt to forbid them forced them to resist by developing new visual ways to code, disguise and express their subjects identitiesand also their own.
The installation begins with late 19th-century works by Thomas Eakins and John Singer Sargent and charts 20th-century portraiture with 105 major works by masters, including Romaine Brooks, George Bellows, Marsden Hartley and Georgia OKeeffe. It continues through the postwar period with works by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Agnes Martin and Andy Warhol. The exhibition addresses the impact of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the AIDS epidemic and the advent of postmodernist attention to identities, indicating how portraiture repeatedly negotiated seismic shifts in American culture and society. Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture continues through to the end of the 20th century with major works by artists such as Keith Haring, Glenn Ligon, Nan Goldin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, David Wojnarowicz and Catherine Opie.
Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture surveys more than 100 years of compelling expressions of American art, said Martin Sullivan, director of the museum. This exhibition reveals another layer of American social history, one that greatly influenced these artists work and American art as a whole.
Among the objects in the exhibition are Salutat by Eakins; Painting No. 47, Berlin by Hartley; Brooks 1923 oil-on-canvas self-portrait; Rrose Selavy (Marcel Duchamp), 1920 by Man Ray; a photograph of Janet Flanner taken in 1927 by Berenice Abbott; Canto XIV [from XXIV Drawings from Dantes Inferno] by Rauschenberg; We Two Boys Together Clinging by David Hockney; Troy Diptych and Camouflage Self-Portrait both by Warhol; Souvenir by Johns; Felix, June 5, 1994, by AA Bronson; and Ellen DeGeneres in Kauai, Hawaii by Annie Leibovitz.
Co-curators of this exhibition are Ward and Jonathan Katz, director of the doctoral program in visual studies, State University of New York at Buffalo.