Museum of the City of New York
New York City, NY
New York has long been a beacon for gay and lesbian artists seeking freedom, acceptance, and community. Gay Gotham brings to life the gay creative networks that sprang up in the city across the 20th century—a series of artistic subcultures whose radical ideas had lasting effects on the mainstream.
Peeling back the layers of New York’s gay and lesbian life that thrived even in the shadows, this groundbreaking exhibition reveals an often-hidden side of the history of New York City and celebrates the power of artistic collaboration to transcend oppression. Visitors will encounter well-known figures, from Mae West to Leonard Bernstein to Andy Warhol, and discover lesser-known ones, such as feminist artist Harmony Hammond, painter and writer Richard Bruce Nugent, and transgender artist Greer Lankton. Surprising relationships emerge: Warhol and Mercedes de Acosta; Robert Mapplethorpe and Cecil Beaton; George Platt Lynes and Gertrude Stein.
Comprising two full galleries, Gay Gotham features the work of these artists, including paintings and photographs, as well as letters, snapshots, and ephemera that illuminate their personal bonds and reveal secrets that were scandal-provoking in their time and remain largely unknown today.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, the exhibition catalog, Gay Gotham: Art and Underground Culture in New York, uncovers the lost history of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender artists in New York City, bringing to life the counter-cultural artistic communities that sprang up over the last hundred years, a creative class whose radical ideas would determine much of modern culture. More than 200 images peel back the overlapping layers of this cultural network that thrived despite its illicitness, revealing a whole new side of the history of New York.