terra foundation for american art visiting professor

Submerged: On Sexuality and American Art

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

17.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

photo to two pairs of women embracing each other, showing only waists and arms and Victorian dress
Nina Levitt, Submerged (for Alice Austen) (detail), 1991/92, colour photograph, 76 x 61 cm. © Courtesy the artist

Speaker(s): Richard Meyer (Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professor, The Courtauld; and Associate Professor of Art History and Fine Arts, University of Southern California)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Professor Mignon Nixon

Writing sexuality into the history of art means redrawing the boundaries of what counts both as art and as history. If Americanists have been at the forefront of this task, this is not to say that their work has been warmly received or openly supported within the broader reaches of the discipline. This paper argues for an expanded field of sexuality in the scholarly study of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American art. Taking the life, work, and (contested) reception of the photographer Alice Austen as a case study, it traces a dialectic between visibility and suppression as formative of art-historical knowledge. Richard Meyer’s talk concludes with a discussion of the constraints and challenges posed by a recently completed book project titled Art and Queer Culture, 1885-present, a survey text co-edited with the lesbian artist and critic Catherine Lord. The unequal visibility of male and female homoeroticism within American art (and the ethical and interpretive questions that follow from it) will be addressed in some detail.

Richard Meyer is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and Director of the Contemporary Project and the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art (Oxford University Press, 2002) and co-author of Weegee and Naked City (University of California Press, 2008). Most recently, he curated Warhol’s Jews: Ten Portraits Reconsidered at the Jewish Museum in New York City and the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. His essay, “Artists Sometimes Have Feelings” received the 2008 Art Journal award from the College Art Association. He is currently completing two books, a survey text co-edited with Catherine Lord titled Art and Queer Culture, 1885-present (Phaidon, 2010) and a short history of 20th-century art titled What was Contemporary Art? to be published by MIT Press. His teaching interests include contemporary art, censorship and the public sphere, the history of photography, gender and sexuality studies, and visual culture.

As Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professor at The Courtauld in 2010-11, he will lead a series of seminars on ‘Feminist and Queer Art History’ as part of Professor Mignon Nixon's M.A. Special Option Informed: Art, Sex, War, and Gender Politics since 1960.

For further information about the Terra Foundation for American Art and this initiative see www.terraamericanart.org

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