Subjects of the Visual Arts
A figure of uncertain gender in whom identifying sexual characteristics are stylized or combined, the androgyne is a significant and recurrent subject in art, one that has often held special significance for glbtq people.
A common theme in painting since the Renaissance, bathing scenes are often suffused with a distinctly homosexual atmosphere.
Bicycles, introduced in Europe around 1863, were the first democratic means of transportation, and soon became both a means and a symbol of women's liberation.
It is not surprising, since the Bible insists that David be looked at and admired, that he should emerge in Western art as the incarnation of male physical attractiveness, especially as rendered by Michelangelo.
The goddess of chastity, Diana is frequently depicted with nymphs lovingly caring for her body, thus enacting a considerable degree of physical intimacy.
Women with dildoes, often strapped on, are represented in many cultures and in most periods of European art.
The Greek god of wine, revelry, and orgiastic delights, and the patron god of hermaphrodites and transvestites, Dionysus has been extremely popular as a subject of Western art.
Endymion is frequently represented in art as an exemplar of male physical beauty, youthful innocence, and sexual accessibility.
Since antiquity Ganymede, the beautiful Phrygian youth abducted by Jupiter, has served as an artistic expression for homosexuality.
Athenian lovers Harmodius and Aristogeiton were remembered in ancient Greece as the great tyrannicides and celebrated as lovers, patriots, and martyrs.
A complex and multivalent character, Hercules is an exemplary hero whose myths remind us that a supreme manifestation of virility and physicality can also encompass sexual deeds outside the heteronormative.
Hermaphrodites are a common subject in ancient art, but disappear from art history until the Renaissance, when they are most often employed as non-erotic symbols of the union of opposites.
Although the myth of Narcissus was originally intended as a moral fable against excessive pride, Narcissus has functioned in the arts as a symbol of same-sex passion, as well as of masturbation and effeminacy.
While nude depictions of women appear in most cultures, on both sides of the equator, and in rich variety, lesbian artists have been particularly resourceful in their use of the female nude.
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."
Although most artists since the Hellenistic age ignore the homosexual aspect of Orpheus, depicting him instead as the classical pattern of the poet-musician, notable exceptions are Colard Mansion and Albrecht Dürer.
A Phrygian fertility god whose cult spread throughout the Hellenistic world and usually depicted with enormous genitals, Priapus was the patron of all in need of luck, especially men and women in search of sexual satisfaction.
The story of Psyche, a late addition to Olympian divinities, is often interpreted as an allegory of the human confrontation with desire and the divine; although universal, it has had particular resonance for glbtq people.
Soldiers and sailors constitute a long-standing presence in gay male visual culture.
Although art historians have given very little attention to representations of sex workers, images of same-sex prostitution extend far back into history.
Sebastian's broad and long-standing presence in queer artistic production suggests that he functions as an emblem of the feelings of shame, rejection, inverted desire, and loneliness endured by queer people in a homophobic society.
From its inception in the nineteenth century, the artistic vampire has been linked with homosexuality, a connection that has been explored in a number of films.