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Subjects of the Visual Arts: Nude Females  
page: 1  2  3  4  

In 1992, Zoe Leonard (b. 1961)--as part of Documenta IX in Kassel, Germany--replaced each portrait painting of a man in one eighteenth-century gallery in the Kunsthalle Museum with a photographic close-up of female genitalia; paintings of women were left hanging. Millett's and Leonard's public displays of taboo imagery expanded the psychological space for the female nude.

Lola Flash (b. 1969), an African-American photographer who lives in London, uses color reversals in order to complicate issues of race. A number of her sensuous compositions have been published on covers of books.

During the early 1990s, working counter to the dominant lesbian feminist emphasis on honesty, three Canadian lesbians photographed staged sexual tableaux and then asked viewers to draw literal lines on the walls of the show to indicate where censorship should take place. The artists, calling themselves Kiss & Tell, were designer-writer Lizard Jones (b. 1961), photographer Susan Stewart (b. 1952), and sculptor Persimmon Blackbridge (b. 1951).

Beginning in 1998, Lesbian ConneXion/s--a photo exhibit by lesbian and bisexual women, most of whom live in northern Europe--was exhibited in the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Croatia, Russia, and the United States.

The show, which is still touring, includes female nudes by Sandra Vitaljic (b. 1972) of Zagreb, Olga Stefaniuk (b. 1954) of Warsaw, Kirsten Plathof (b. 1960) and Gundula Krause (b. 1967) of Berlin, Yvonne Anne Driehuis (b. 1957) of Utrecht, Marian Bakker (b. 1944) and Lorena Bernardi (b. 1960) of Amsterdam, Sophie Anquez (b. 1962) of Paris, and Tanya Sazansky (b. 1971) of Moscow, among others.

Lesbian ConneXion/s is noteworthy for the variety of its nudes. The images range from Bernardi's classic profiles in which one woman arches her back against another's pregnant belly to Anquez' crop-haired, skinny young women squeezing their breasts to create cleavage, and from Stefaniuk's nude-in-landscape to Vitaljic's hairless figure biting her own shoulder.

These images at once reference the past and reflect some of the multi-faceted ways that contemporary artists explore and update female nude imagery.

Tee A. Corinne

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arts >> Overview:  American Art: Lesbian, 1900-1969

American lesbian art in the earlier twentieth century was indelibly shaped by the expatriate experience and by the emergence of a more democratic art form, photography, as well as by the intense pressure following World War II to retreat into the closet.

arts >> Overview:  American Art: Lesbian, Nineteenth Century

The accomplishments of American lesbian artists in the nineteenth century, some of whom are only now receiving recognition, is all the more remarkable for the obstacles they faced as women and as homosexuals.

arts >> Overview:  American Art: Lesbian, Post-Stonewall

Since Stonewall, lesbian artists in America, from installation artists to filmmakers and photographers to performance artists and painters, have become increasingly diverse and visible.

social sciences >> Overview:  Intersexuality

Intersexuality (formerly referred to as hermaphroditism) is a congenital anomaly in which an individual's external genitalia or internal reproductive systems fall outside the norms for either male or female bodies.

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:  Photography: Lesbian, Pre-Stonewall

The most significant examples of pre-Stonewall lesbian photography convey relationships, reflect lesbian iconography, or show the photographer looking at and recording her beloved.

social sciences >> Overview:  Transgender

"Transgender" has become an umbrella term representing a political alliance between all gender variant people who do not conform to social norms for typical men and women and who suffer political oppression as a result.

arts >> Abbott, Berenice

American photographer Berenice Abbott made memorable images of lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men in Paris in the 1920s and in New York from the 1930s through 1965.

literature >> Barney, Natalie Clifford

In addition to being the muse and inspiration of other writers, American expatriate Natalie Barney, known as the Amazon, was a poet, memoirist, and epigrammatist in her own right.

arts >> Bernhard, Ruth

Ruth Bernhard is one of the preeminent twentieth-century photographers of the nude female.

arts >> Biren, Joan Elizabeth (JEB)

During the 1970s and 1980s, the photographs of Joan Elizabeth Biren, better known as JEB, defined and set the standard for lesbian feminist image making in the United States.

arts >> Brooks, Romaine

The female nudes and portraits of cross-dressed women made American artist Romaine Brooks's lesbian identity known to the world.

arts >> Cahun, Claude

Photographer, photo collagist, writer, and translator Claude Cahun is known today primarily for creating images, including self-portraits, that play with concepts of gender.

arts >> Darger, Henry

Now considered one of the most original artists of the last half of the twentieth century, Henry Darger died completely unknown in his native Chicago.

arts >> Edison, Laurie Toby

Best known for three collections of photographs featuring, respectively, fat nude women, nude men, and women in Japan, Laurie Toby Edison turned to photography as a medium that could combine art and social activism.

arts >> Fini, Léonor

The work of bisexual artist Léonor Fini, which emphasizes female power and autonomy, may be seen as a response to the patriarchal assumptions of Surrealism.

arts >> Grace, Della (Del Lagrace Volcano)

The work of photographer Della Grace, also known as Del Lagrace Volcano, confronts questions of the performance of gender, especially the performance of masculinity by lesbians.

arts >> Gray, Eileen

Renowned designer of furniture, rugs, and lacquered screens, Eileen Gray also gained fame as an architect who created elegant and spare residences.

arts >> Henri, Florence

American-born artist Florence Henri produced a wide range of photography in the 1920s and 1930s, including still lifes, portraits, nudes, advertising images, and photomontages.

social sciences >> Hirschfeld, Magnus

German-born Magnus Hirschfeld deserves recognition as a significant theorist of sexuality and the most prominent advocate of homosexual emancipation of his time.

arts >> Höch, Hannah

Best known for her photomontages critiquing bourgeois culture, German bisexual artist Hannah Höch embraced a number of artistic movements and styles during her long career.

arts >> Hosmer, Harriet Goodhue

American sculptor Harriet Hosmer, among a handful of successful women artists in the nineteenth century, frequently scandalized the polite society of her day by her mannish dress and adventurous behavior.

arts >> Johnston, Frances Benjamin

Pioneering photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston served as the official White House photographer during several administrations and earned fame as a photojournalist and documentary photographer.

arts >> Kahlo, Frida

Bisexual Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was a masterful exponent of cross-dressing, deliberately using male drag to project power and independence.

arts >> Lempicka, Tamara de

Polish-born artist Tamara de Lempicka achieved notoriety and fame several times during her life and remains popular today for her highly sexualized art deco portraits.

arts >> Lewis, Mary Edmonia

American sculptor Mary Edmonia Lewis lived most of her life in Rome, where she was a member of a lesbian circle of American expatriates and artists.

arts >> Mammen, Jeanne

One of the most talented artists to emerge from Germany's Weimar epoch, Jeanne Mammen created some of the most sympathetic depictions of lesbians since Sappho.

arts >> Mapplethorpe, Robert

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

arts >> Michelangelo Buonarroti

The most famous artist who ever lived, Michelangelo left an enormous legacy in sculpture, painting, drawing, architecture, and poetry; while the artist's sexual behavior cannot be documented, the homoerotic character of his drawings, letters, and poetry is unmistakable.

literature >> Millett, Kate

Bisexual feminist literary and social critic Kate Millett is best known for her pioneering critique of patriarchy in Western society and literature, Sexual Politics (1970).

arts >> Sargent, John Singer

The evidence of the homosexuality of celebrated portrait artist John Singer Sargent resides largely in his work, especially his genre paintings and male nudes.

arts >> Sipprell, Clara Estelle

One of the foremost practitioners of pictorial photography in the United States, Clara Sipprell also produced portraits, still lifes, landscapes, and female nudes.

arts >> Stebbins, Emma

Emma Stebbins is remembered for the sculpture that she produced between 1859 and 1869 and for being the lover of actress Charlotte Cushman.

literature >> Vivien, Renée

Renée Vivien, who had many affairs with women, openly celebrated lesboerotic love in her poetry and dreamed of women-controlled spaces in an era when most women were still domestically confined.

arts >> Whitney, Anne

Boston sculptor Anne Whitney, who as a woman in a male-dominated field struggled for equality, chose subjects--abolitionists, feminists, and blacks--that reflected her liberal political and social beliefs.


Bright, Susie, and Jill Posener, eds. Nothing But the Girl: The Blatant Lesbian Image. London and New York: Freedom Editions/Cassell, 1996.

Cade, Cathy. A Lesbian Photo Album: The Lives of Seven Lesbian Feminists. Oakland Calif.: Waterwomen Books, 1987.

Francesconi, Judy. Visual Sonnets. West Hollywood, Calif.: Shake-It-Up Productions, 2000.

Goujon, Jean-Paul. Album Secret: Renee Vivien, Natalie Barney, Eva Palmer. Paris: Éditions A L'Ecart, 1984.

Hardy, C. Moore. "Lesbian Erotica and Impossible Images." Sex In Public: Australian Sexual Cultures. Jill Julius Matthews, ed. St. Leonards, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1997.

Kelley, Caffyn, ed. Forbidden Subjects: Self-Portraits by Lesbian Artists. North Vancouver, B.C.: Gallerie Publications, 1992.

Kiss & Tell (Susan Stewart, Persimmon Blackbridge, and Lizard Jones). Drawing the Line: Lesbian Sexual Politics on the Wall. Vancouver, B.C.: Press Gang Publishers, 1991.

Lakich, Lili. Neon Lovers Glow in the Dark. Los Angeles: Museum of Neon Art, 1986.

Leong, Russell, ed. Asian American Sexualities: Dimensions of the Gay & Lesbian Experience. New York: Routledge, 1996.

Mariechild, Diane, and Marcelina Martin. Lesbian Sacred Sexuality. Oakland, Calif.: Wingbow Press, 1995.

Nössler, Regina. Nice Girls Don't: Erotische Fotografien by Laurence Jaugey-Paget. Tübingen, Germany: Konkursbuch Verlag Claudia Gehrke, 1999.

Snellings, Lieve. Lesbian ConneXion/s Vlaanderen--Some Day They Will Remember Us. Middelkerke-Leffinge, Belgium: Lover, 1999.


    Citation Information
    Author: Corinne, Tee A.  
    Entry Title: Subjects of the Visual Arts: Nude Females  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated October 30, 2007  
    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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