Exhibition Highlight: Queer British Art 1861-1967
A few different pieces stood out to me from the Queer British Art exhibition currently on display at Tate Britain. First is the painting “Sappho and Erina in a Garden at Mytilene” by Simeon Solomon. The backstory to the composition, a reclamation of Greco-Roman mythological figures, is right up my alley. Always a pleasure to see queerness re-inserted into a history drained of its nuance by hegemony. #refreshing
Another is the Edmond Dulas painting in tempera: “Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon as Medieval Saints.” The label shared a compelling insight into the imagery: monastic vows signify entry into a male-only world, a clever code. Some might clutch their pearls, but I’m leaning aaaaAAaAAaAaLL the way in…
One of the centerpieces of the exhibit is the door from Oscar Wilde’s prison cell during his incarceration for indecency (related: the cell key was just sold at auction last year). In addition to its tangibility inspiring a powerful link between past and present (it certainly works in that sense), the presence of the door in an art museum raises a question I (and many other museum scholars) ponder quite frequently: when do regular schmegular objects become art? Who gets to draw the line? But that’s another post entirely!
For a much more intellectual take on #QueerArtHistory, check out Re-Gayze, a multimedia project “devoted to re-inserting queerness into formal art historical discourse.”
More to come on the Tate Britain. Stay tuned as this post is updated over the next week!