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Photography: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall  
 
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Peter Hujar

Peter Hujar (1934-1987) lived and worked in New York City. He photographed a wide array of subject matter: nudes, animals, fashion, still lifes, Italian landscapes, erotica, street people, and transvestites, always finding beauty in unexpected places.

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Hujar's best-known photograph, "Candy Darling on her Deathbed" (1973), is both gentle and heroic. His ability to show compassion is a constant in his work, from his early portraits of handicapped children to his late self-portraits.

In 1994, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam joined the Fotomuseum in Zürich to assemble the first major exhibition of Hujar's work. The retrospective included some 183 images and an accompanying catalogue entitled Peter Hujar: A Retrospective. Hujar died of an AIDS-related illness in 1987.

Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) became one of the most famous gay male artists of his time as a result of the controversy surrounding his 1989 exhibit "The Perfect Moment." Perhaps best known for his X and Y portfolios, composed of S&M and flower images, respectively, Mapplethorpe combines cool elegance of composition, stylized forms, and shocking subject matter.

Mapplethorpe's work actually spans a range of media and subject matter, but it was his documentation of S&M practices that thrust his work into the center of the controversy over censorship in the arts. He died of an AIDS-related illness.

Duane Michals

Born in Pennsylvania in 1932, Duane Michals settled in New York in the late 1950s and became known as a commercial and fashion photographer. He first exhibited in 1963, and by 1970 his work had been shown at the Museum of Modern Art. He has published over twenty books of his work, including The Portraits of Duane Michals 1958-1988 (1989).

His early work became well known for its insistent, and often humorous, use of the narrative series. Many such works actually incorporated handwritten text onto the images. Thematically, Michals has a recurrent fascination with making tangible the intangible realm of love, death, dreams, and wishes. His works deal with human sexuality, both straight and gay, but always in a charmingly moving and innocent manner.

Pierre Molinier

Born in Agen, France, Molinier (1900-1976) had some formal training and lived in Paris for a brief period. But most of his life was spent in Bordeaux where he remained until his death. Molinier began his career as a painter, but by 1950 he had begun to produce the self-portraiture for which he is best known. He had a solo exhibition in André Breton's Paris gallery in 1955.

The bulk of Molinier's photographs were incorporated into photomontage, or photographic collage, which allowed him to alter and repeat any given element. As a result, he created fantastic works, in which, for example, an army of figures could be seen cavorting behind fetishized masks, stiletto heels, and corsets.

Using himself and other models, he then positioned these fantastically gendered figures into erotic compositions that ranged from auto-eroticism to tangled bodies. His work explores transvestitism and auto-erotic fetishism.

Molinier's elaborate suicide in 1976--he shot himself while lying on his bed before a mirror--initially baffled police and secured his legacy. The police at first assumed that he was the victim of foul play, but his suicide was simply another extension of his enigmatic art practice.

Mark Morrisroe

Born in Massachusetts, Mark Morrisroe (1959-1989) created photographs that have been included in numerous museum and gallery exhibitions nationwide, including the 1997 "My Life. Mark Morrisroe: Polaroids 1977-1989" exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles.

The exhibition included 188 portraits, the majority of which were self-portraits. The most striking element in these technically informal works is the voyeuristic appeal of the polaroids themselves. Morrisroe used a 195 Polaroid Land camera and a nearly unlimited supply of film donated by the director of marketing and communications at the Polaroid Corporation.

Captured over a twelve-year period, Morrisroe's naked body in these photographs deteriorates from youthful beauty to near-skeletal wasting as a result of his illness. The self-conscious innocence of Morrisroe's early work is unforgettable.

Walter Pfeiffer

Born in 1946, Walter Pfeiffer lives and works in Zürich. His work has been exhibited at Frankfurt's Kunstverein (1981), Basel's Kunsthalle (1987), Bern's Kunstmuseum (1989), Stockholm's Maritmen Museum (1999), and Zürich's Kunsthaus (1999-2000).

His recent book, Welcome Aboard, Photography 1980-2000, contains a vast array of homoerotic images, many with a documentary feel.

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