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arts

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Bachardy, Don (b. 1934)  
 
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Bachardy is probably best known for his nudes, which are at once erotic and dispassionately observed, and for his celebrity portraits. While his drawings and paintings of non-celebrities far outnumber the likenesses he has rendered of famous people, he has completed sittings with such well-known and diverse subjects as Myrna Loy, Ginger Rogers, Anaïs Nin, Gore Vidal, Jane Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, James Merrill, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Aldous Huxley, among many others. (He has also been the subject of works by artists such as David Hockney, whose masterful double portrait of Isherwood and Bachardy is justly famous.)

In the late 1980s, Bruce Voeller of the Mariposa Education and Research Foundation commissioned Bachardy to create a series of portraits of a dozen gay rights leaders. The series includes studies of Elaine Noble, Frank Kameny, Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin, Morris Kight, Charles Bryden, James Foster, Bruce Voeller, David B. Goodstein, Jean O'Leary, Reverend Troy Perry, and Barbara Gittings. In 1995, after the death of Voeller and the closure of the Mariposa foundation, the series was donated to the Human Sexuality Collection at Cornell University Library.

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Among Bachardy's best known works are the frequently reproduced drawings and paintings of Isherwood that span some thirty years and capture the novelist in an amazing variety of moods; the famous likeness of W. H. Auden--his forehead a mass of wrinkles--that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, London; the haunting image of a haggard, aged Bette Davis, her downturned mouth held as though set in stone; and the intense and controversial painting of former California Governor Jerry Brown that hangs in the California State House.

Bachardy's portraits are not flattering--in fact, they occasionally seem cruel in their honesty--but in sure lines and deft strokes they convey with authenticity and accuracy the personalities of his sitters. Indeed, they are psychological portraits as much as they are physical likenesses. Almost Oriental in their economy of line, Bachardy's drawings distill the essences of his subjects, even as they also constitute a record of his own experience.

Bachardy's art is the subject of a short film by Academy Award-winning director Terry Sanders, The Eyes of Don Bachardy (2005). His relationship with Isherwood is the subject of Guido Santi and Tina Mascara's luminous documentary, Chris & Don: A Love Story (2008).

Teresa Theophano

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arts >> Overview:  American Art: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall

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arts >> Overview:  Contemporary Art

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social sciences >> Overview:  Los Angeles

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arts >> Overview:  Patronage II: The Western World since 1900

Patronage--the sponsorship of artists and the commissioning of works from them--has remained a significant factor in the creation of queer visual culture in the modern era.

arts >> Overview:  Subjects of the Visual Arts: Nude Males

Throughout much of history, the nude male figure was virtually the only subject that could be used to articulate homoerotic desire in publicly displayed works of art, as well as those works of art intended for private "consumption."

literature >> Auden, W. H.

One of the most accomplished poets of the twentieth century, W. H. Auden found that his gayness led him to new insights into the universal impulse to love and enlarged his understanding of all kinds of relationships.

social sciences >> Gittings, Barbara

A pioneer in the American gay rights movement, Barbara Gittings worked tirelessly within the American Library Association to make material with glbtq content more accessible to the reading public.

social sciences >> Goodstein, David

Publisher David Goodstein transformed The Advocate into the leading American gay newsmagazine.

arts >> Hockney, David

One of the liveliest and most versatile visual artists of his generation, David Hockney not only has helped break down resistance to the erotic gaze directed at the male body but also has presented gay male couples in domestic--rather than sensational or sexual--images.

literature >> Isherwood, Christopher

A major Anglo-American novelist and a pioneer in the gay liberation movement, Christopher Isherwood created gay characters whose homosexuality is a simple given, an integral part of the wholeness of personality and an emblem of their common humanity.

social sciences >> Kameny, Frank

One of the founding fathers of the American gay rights movement, Frank Kameny helped radicalize the homophile movement, preparing the way for the mass movement for equality initiated by the Stonewall Riots of 1969.

social sciences >> Kight, Morris

Los Angeles activist Morris Kight, a determined and courageous--if sometimes eccentric--fighter for glbtq rights, worked for decades in the struggle for equality.

arts >> Laughton, Charles

Anglo-American stage and screen actor and director Charles Laughton scored many triumphs in a distinguished career, but nevertheless suffered for much of his life from self-loathing and internalized homophobia.

social sciences >> Lyon, Phyllis, (b. 1924) and Del Martin (1921-2008)

Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin were among the founders of a lesbian liberation movement that developed and enlarged the very definition of lesbianism.

arts >> Mapplethorpe, Robert

American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's controversial images typically combine rigorously formal composition and design with extreme subject matter.

literature >> Merrill, James

James Merrill's significance as a gay writer lies in his deliberate use of a personal relationship to fuel his poetry.

literature >> Nin, Anaïs

The bisexual novelist Anaïs Nin is best known for her sexually frank diaries and the erotica published after her death.

social sciences >> Noble, Elaine

A dedicated lesbian activist in the early years of the gay liberation movement, Elaine Noble made history as the first openly gay candidate elected to a state-level office when she won a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1974.

social sciences >> O'Leary, Jean

Jean O'Leary devoted her life to activism for gay and lesbian rights.

arts >> Pears, Peter

Highly respected British tenor Sir Peter Pears was the life partner of composer Benjamin Britten, who wrote leading roles in many of his operas for him.

arts >> Perkins, Anthony

In his personal life, American actor Anthony Perkins often seemed as tortured as the troubled characters he played on film, hiding--and perhaps despising--his true nature while desperately seeking happiness and "normality."

literature >> Vidal, Gore

The multifaceted Gore Vidal is important in the gay literary heritage because of the straightforwardness with which he pursued gay themes and included gay characters in his work.

social sciences >> Voeller, Bruce

American activist and scientist Bruce Voeller was a leader in both the gay rights movement and the fight against AIDS.


    Bibliography
   

Bachardy, Don. Stars In My Eyes. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2000.

www.americanartists.org.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Theophano, Teresa  
    Entry Title: Bachardy, Don  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated January 30, 2009  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/bachardy_d.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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