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Photography: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall  
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Remarkably, in a six-year period, Ritts published four books. The first, Men/Women (1989), used the human figure in a sensuous and graphically charged manner, taking the best of both fine art and commercial photography traditions.

The second, Duo (1991), presented a series of gay couples in the nude. Sexualized by their nudity, and normalized by their humanity, the project drew from both studio and ethnographic portrait styles.

The third, Notorious (1992), showcased Ritts' success as a celebrity portraitist. His first major museum exhibition was held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1986.

Wolfgang Tillmans

Born in 1968 in Germany, where he was raised, Wolfgang Tillmans currently lives and works in London. He has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitons worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the 1998 Berlin Biennale, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, to name just a few.

In 2000, Tillmans was awarded the highly prestigious Turner Prize in Photography. His photographs have appeared in i-D, Interview, Vogue, and Raygun. His latest book, Burg, a retrospective of his photography over the last five years, was published in 1998.

One of the youngest photographers to receive international recognition, Tillmans not surprisingly focuses on youth culture in his photography. His work may be described as stylistically a cross between snapshot and documentary.

Tillmans shows us the interiors of bedrooms, empty Chinese food containers, random events that are less concerned with photo history than with photography's evocative power. In one photo, a young man with a Mohawk haircut urinates on a chair. The image's transgressive ambiguity is at once both mundane and erotic.

Arthur Tress

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1940, Tress currently lives and works in Cambria, California. From 1962 to 1968 he created documentary photographs throughout Europe. His work is in major museum collections such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

His recent retrospective at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C., entitled "Fantastic Voyage: Photographs 1956-2000," surveyed the vast terrain of his photographic career. The exhibition included his little seen early documentary work; the surreal dream imagery found in three of his best-known photographic series, "Dream Collector," "Shadow," and "Theater of the Mind"; and his exploration of sexuality and eroticism. As a photographer, Tress has touched on nearly all the major themes of his time.

Bruce Weber

Born in Greensberg, Pennsylvania in 1946, Weber is well known as a commercial photographer. He has also produced commercials, videos, and a number of films including, Broken Noses (1987). In recent years, his photographic work has been increasingly shown in museums and galleries.

Weber's projects usually construct a world filled with celebrities and/or exquisitely defined, freckle-faced youths, usually caught boxing, rowing, swimming, or sleeping, all in a self-conscious naturalism that presumes to be as innocent as it is erotic.

David Wojnarowicz

Born in New Jersey, David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) suffered abuse as a child and grew up largely on the streets, managing somewhat amazingly to acquire a good education despite his troubled youth.

In 1979, living in New York's East Village, he began both his photographic series "Arthur Rimbaud in New York" and his street paintings. As Rimbaud, an alienated Wojnarowicz can be seen riding the New York City subway, eating in a cafe, and even masturbating.

Wojnarowicz worked in a wide range of media throughout his career but is best known for the series of photo-based works that were at the center of a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funding controversy in the late 1980s, "Tongues of Flame."

Controversial because of their explicit gay content, they juxtaposed images culled from gay pornography with images from popular culture. In 1990, Wojnarowicz and the Center for Constitutional Rights sued Donald Wildmon and the American Family Association for illegally reproducing artwork from the "Tongues of Flames" catalogue.

His works, which resonate with the anger and frustration felt by gay men in the face of AIDS and , have been included in a traveling retrospective.

Ken Gonzales-Day

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More Entries about The Arts

   Related Entries
arts >> Overview:  Advertising and Consumerism

In the last decades of the twentieth century, purveyors of products and services have worked to identify and court a glbtq market with both positive and negative effects.

arts >> Overview:  Censorship in the Arts

Many gay and lesbian artists who have defied the legal and social prohibitions against explicit or sympathetic depictions of homosexuality have seen their art censored or suppressed.

arts >> Overview:  Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male

Given the historic stigma around making, circulating, and possessing overtly homoerotic images, the visual arts have been especially important for providing a socially sanctioned arena for depicting the naked male body and suggesting homoerotic desire.

arts >> Overview:  Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall

Although sparse in images documenting the gay community, pre-Stonewall gay male photography blurs the boundaries between art, erotica, and social history.

arts >> Overview:  Photography: Lesbian, Post-Stonewall

Since Stonewall lesbian photographers have created an enduring archive that documents lesbian lives, searches for a lesbian sensibility, and explores various issues of particular import to the lesbian community.

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."

arts >> Overview:  The Western

A distinctive American narrative genre that has developed over more than two centuries, the Western is now consumed worldwide; characteristically depicting homosocial relationships, it is also frequently suffused with homoeroticism.

arts >> Barton, Crawford

Photographer Crawford Barton captured the blossoming of an openly gay culture in San Francisco in the 1960s and 1970s.

arts >> Dureau, George

New Orleans artist George Dureau is best known for his male figure studies and narrative paintings in oil and charcoal and for his black-and-white photographs, which often feature street youths, dwarfs, and amputees.

arts >> Gilbert & George
Gilbert Proesch (b. 1943) and George Passmore (b. 1942)

Controversial British avant-garde artists Gilbert & George explore themes ranging from city life, with all its frailties, to religion, scatology, and homosexuality.

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.

arts >> Hujar, Peter

Photographer Peter Hujar created stark, stunning, affecting , and sometimes disturbing images in black and white.

arts >> Klein, Calvin

American designer Calvin Klein has created an extraordinarily successful fashion empire through his simple and elegant designs and his skilful employment of provocative advertising campaigns that are saturated with homoeroticism.

arts >> Mapplethorpe, Robert

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

arts >> Michals, Duane

American photographer Duane Michals represents same-sex love and spirituality as compellingly as he does same-sex desire.

arts >> Orphanos, Stathis (b.1940), and Sylvester, Ralph (b.1934)

Publishers Stathis Orphanos and Ralph Sylvester, partners in life as well as business, are best known for their beautifully produced limited edition books; in addition, Orphanos is acclaimed for his photographs of celebrities and male nudes.

arts >> Pierre et Gilles

French artists Pierre et Gilles create stylistically unique painted photographs that capture the nuances of modern gay life in complex images that are remarkably unpretentious and accessible.

arts >> Ritts, Herb

Acclaimed for his artistic and insightful images, many of them in black and white, American photographer Herb Ritts infused his work with homoeroticism and "homosexual iconography."

arts >> Roberts, Mel

In his 1960s and 1970s images of hikers, bikers, and surfers, photographer and activist Mel Roberts captured the spirit of the California Dream that lured thousands of gay men to the Golden State in search of freedom and opportunity after World War II.

arts >> Robinson, Jack

Photographer Jack Robinson came to prominence as a result of the stunning fashion and celebrity photographs he shot for magazines in the 1960s, but he also created significant images that document the gay subculture of New Orleans in the 1950s.

arts >> Scavullo, Francesco

Best known for his work in fashion and for his magazine covers, American photographer Francesco Scavullo was also a masterful portrait photographer.

arts >> Teske, Edmund

American photographer Edmund Teske created a distinct and inventive body of work that embraced multiple styles and subjects, from somber urban vistas to intimate, often eroticized, portraits.

arts >> Tillmans, Wolfgang

An important contemporary photographer, Wolfgang Tillmans synthesizes classic photographic genres, but has also pioneered in his photographic installations by utilizing innovative methods of presentation.

arts >> Tress, Arthur

The uncompromising, poetic imagery of American photographer Arthur Tress is the stuff of dreams, called forth from the artist's reckoning with the world and his place in it.

arts >> Weber, Bruce

One of the world's most popular commercial photographers, Bruce Weber has re-envisioned male beauty through his erotic, yet nostalgic take on American adolescence.

arts >> Wojnarowicz, David

The first gay American artist to respond to the AIDS crisis with anger and moral outrage, David Wojnarowicz used his art as a polemical tool with which to indict those he held responsible for the AIDS epidemic and to document his own suffering.

arts >> Yeomans, Lee Calvin "Cal"

A trailblazer in post-Stonewall gay theater, Cal Yeomans explored sex and sexuality so directly in his critically-acclaimed plays that it made his work difficult to produce even in the gay community.


Cameron, Dan, and Lisa Phillips. Pierre et Gilles. London: Merrell Publishers, 2000.

Deitcher, David, and Wolfgang Tilmans. Burg. Köln: Taschen, 1998.

Farson, Daniel. Around the World with Gilbert & George: A Portrait. London: Trafalgar Square, 1999.

Flynt, Robert. Compound Fracture. Santa Fe, N. M.:Twin Palms, 1996.

Giard, Robert. Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay And Lesbian Writers. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998.

Gorsen, Peter. "The Artist's Desiring Gaze on Objects of Fetishism." Pierre Molinier: Plug In Editions. Winnipeg, Canada: Art Press, 1997.

Hujar, Peter. Peter Hujar: A Retrospective. New York: Scalo, 1994.

Livingston, Marco, and Duane Michals. The Essential Duane Michals. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1997.

Lorenz, Richard. Arthur Tress: Fantastic Voyage: Photographs 1956-2000. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 2001.

Morrisroe, Mark. Mark Morrisroe. Santa Fe, N. M.: Twin Palms, 1999.

Pierson, Jack. The Lonely Life. Gerard A. Goodrow and Peter Weiermair, eds. Zürich: Edition Stemmle, 1997.

Pfeiffer, Walter. Welcome Aboard, Photography 1980-2000. New York: Scalo, 2000.

Probst, Ken. (por ne-graf'ik). Santa Fe, N. M.: Twin Palms, 1999.

Ritts, Herb. Work. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1996.

Wojnarowicz, David. David Wojnarowicz: Tongues of Flame. Barry Blinderman, ed. Normal: University Galleries, Illinois State University, 1990.


    Citation Information
    Author: Gonzales-Day, Ken  
    Entry Title: Photography: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated July 28, 2009  
    Web Address  
    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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