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Patronage II: The Western World since 1900  
 
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Inheriting a large family fortune in 1902, she moved to London, where she married the pianist John Ellingham Brooks, whom she divorced after a year. Subsequently, her most important relationships were with other women, most notably, the American writer Natalie Barney (1876-1960), her life partner for nearly five decades. While living in London, Brooks developed her distinctive artistic style, modeled in part upon that of the expatriate American artist, James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903).

Brooks adopted Whistler's subtle colors and shades of gray; precise outlining of forms; and simplified, atmospheric handling of backgrounds. Moving to Paris in 1905, she utilized this manner in her portraits of expatriate American lesbians and others. Within the context of an art world dominated by cubism and other avant-garde styles, Brooks's adoption of an obviously retrograde and then unfashionable style actually was quite daring.

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In her Self Portrait (1923, National Museum of American Art, Washington, D. C.), Brooks utilized the guise of the dandy, as had been defined in such portraits of gay men as Whistler's Arrangement In Black And Gold: Comte Robert De Montesquiou-Fezensac (1891-92, Frick Collection, New York). Her portraits of other women--including Una, Lady Troubridge (1923) and Peter, a Young English Girl (a depiction of the British artist Gluck, 1923-1924)--also challenge gender and sexual stereotypes of the era. Although some of her paintings were exhibited occasionally at prominent London and Paris galleries, Brooks generally refused to sell any works, retaining them in her possession until her death.

Self Patronage: Elisàr von Kupffer

Although Elisàr von Kupffer (1872-1942) was largely overlooked in his lifetime, his achievements as a painter, writer, and philosopher finally began to attract the attention they merited near the end of the twentieth century.

In 1900, he published at his own expense Leiblingminne und Freundesliebe in der Weltlitteratur (The Admiration of Beautiful Youths and the Love of Friends in World Literature), an anthology of mainly Western literature, from the ancient through modern periods. One of Kupffer's primary goals was to counterbalance the biomedical explanations of homosexuality (a term Kupffer rejected) by demonstrating the historical and cultural aspects of same-sex love.

After extensive travels in western Europe, the Estonian-born Kupffer settled in 1915 at Minusio, near Lucerne, Switzerland, with his life partner, Eduard van Mayer (1873-1960). Together, Kupffer and Mayer devised an esoteric philosophy, called Klarismus, which elevated as the ideal of human perfection.

Designed and built by the couple in 1927, their villa, "Sanctuarium Artis Elisarium," was intended to serve as the international headquarters for the promotion of their doctrine. At the center of this building, a large round room was covered by eighty-four paintings by Kupffer of languorous naked youths with longing expressions. Believing that homoerotic images could help forge unity among peoples, Kupffer and Mayer reproduced these paintings in their publications.

Klarismus did not have the influence that Kuppfer and Mayer intended, and their sanctuary was allowed to decay after Mayer's death. However, in 1981, their villa was restored and opened as a museum; in 1998, the mission of this institution was considerably expanded by the community of Minusio. In addition to functioning as a museum, Elisarium now serves as a multipurpose cultural center, sponsoring various musical and theatrical events, and it houses an extensive research library on Kupffer and his doctrines. Furthermore, since 1998, some of Kuppfer's paintings have been used to create soothing, beautiful environments in hospices for the care of AIDS patients in the environment of Lucerne.

Prominent Queer Patrons: Gertrude Stein

American writer Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) was one of the most prominent and perceptive supporters of avant-garde art in the early twentieth century. In Paris, Stein and her life partner, Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967), welcomed individuals of all sexual orientations and genders. Discussions in their salons helped to nurture many aspiring writers and artists.

Beginning shortly after she settled in Paris in 1902 and continuing for the rest of her life, Stein eagerly acquired works by progressive visual artists, including Pablo Picasso (1881-1974), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), and Juan Gris (1887-1927), among many others. She thus developed a remarkably comprehensive and cohesive collection of modernist painting. After Stein's death, her art was entrusted to Alice B. Toklas; upon Toklas's death, these works were purchased by a consortium of American collectors on behalf of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and other American museums.

In the endeavors of avant-garde painters, Stein found parallels to her goals as a writer. For instance, her rejection of traditional methods of sentence construction and of naturalistic conventions of narrative and character development can be related to the recognition of paintings as flat surfaces (rather than windows into illusory worlds) and to the innovative and expressive handling of pictorial elements in works by Picasso, Matisse, and others.

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