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arts

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Canadian Art  
 
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Another artist to be mentioned during this period is the portraitist and genre painter, Florence Carlyle (1864-1923), who in 1890 traveled to Paris for artistic training. In the summer of 1911, she met Judith Hastings, and together they formed a "Romantic Friendship." Although Carlyle's painting is rather academic, she did not shy away from depicting the women close to her. Particularly interesting is The Threshold (1913), which depicts a woman standing in an interior dressed in a wedding gown and is thought to represent Hastings.

Post World War II Canada

The period after World War II is often demarcated in gay history by major campaigns of persecution against gays and lesbians. Research by Gary Kinsman shows that Canada was not immune to witchhunts by law enforcement agencies, which considered homosexuality and homosexuals in the civil service to be a threat to national security. During the 1950s and 1960s many Canadian public service and military personnel were systematically purged from their positions.

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Nonetheless, the 1950s and 1960s saw the rise of a particularly "gay" representational mode in the form of physique and bodybuilding magazines. Of note is the Montreal-born, gay photographer, Alan B. Stone (1928-1992). Under the pseudonym "Marc Deauville," Stone created a variety of "beefcake" images, including depictions of rugged sportsmen and fine studies of the male torso.

While photography and the development of video would eventually have important reverberations for later art movements, non-referential painting during the 1950s and 1960s reigned supreme. The terms of that practice, however, considered the inclusion of personal subject matter, such as homosexuality, anathema.

The reaction against non-representational painting mounted slowly and came to fruition in the late 1960s and 1970s. Formed in 1968 by A. A. Bronson (b. 1946), Felix Partz (1945-1994), and Jorge Zontal (1944-1994), the collective known as General Idea approached art from a conceptualist point of view, as seen in their use of film, video, performance, and installation art. Their campy Miss General Idea project (1970-1978), which asked invited participants to vie for the pageant's title, questioned the nature of such popular cultural events.

Other artists, whose careers began in the 1970s, include the video artist Colin Campbell (b. 1942) and the photographer Evergon (b. 1946), whose work deals with issues of sexuality as well as of social and cultural identity.

The late 1970s and early 1980s witnessed a flourishing of multimedia artists who focused on issues of homosexuality, including Paul Wong (b. 1954), Richard Fung (b. 1954), Mike Hoolboom (b. 1958), and John Greyson (b. 1960). Both the painter Pierre Dorion (b. 1959) and the installation artist Micah Lexier (b. 1960) also deserve recognition in this context.

As the 1980s wore on, and as the full impact of the AIDS crisis was felt in the arts community, many artists throughout Canada confronted the subject directly. General Idea, for example, may be known best for their AIDS Project (1987-1991), a critical response to society's apathy toward the disease.

Other artists to approach and politicize issues related to AIDS are Andy Fabo (b. 1953) and Stephan Andrews (b. 1956). Further, a number of art institutions in Canada have participated in the AIDS awareness project, "Day Without Art."

Not all gay artists who matured in the 1980s focused on AIDS, however. The painter Attila Richard Lukacs (b. 1962) and the videographer Bruce LaBruce (b. 1964) are the most notable exceptions. Their often-controversial work forms a substantial attack against the conservative mores held by many members of the gay male community. In their depictions of skinheads, for example, they present unconventional and sometimes disturbing images of same-sex desire.

The 1970s and 1980s were crucial for lesbian artists in Canada, as well. Whether individually or as a group, the Vancouver collective, Kiss & Tell, consisting of Persimmon Blackbridge (b. 1951), Susan Stewart (b. 1952), and Lizard Jones (b. 1961), produced photo-based and multimedia performance art that questioned the nature of lesbian representation.

Other lesbian artists to work with photography include Cyndra MacDowall (b. 1953), Nina Levitt (b. 1955), and Shonagh Adelman (b. 1961). A fifteen-year collaborative enterprise (formed in 1981) between Martha Fleming (b. 1958) and Lyne Lapointe (b. 1957), actualized many site-specific installations, revolving around notions of memory and architecture.

Although Canada may have progressive laws regarding sexual orientation, many gay and lesbian establishments in major urban centers have nevertheless been subject to police harassment. Seizures of art and books alleged to be pornographic--often simply because of their gay or lesbian content--by Canada Customs has also been used as a means to harass the gay and lesbian community.

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