Flowers, art, flags and photos: a cultured take on Pride
Phaidon authors are finding new and innovative ways to recognise the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots
The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York, might have opened and closed a few times in the past half century, but you can more or less still order a drink at the same spot where, 50 years ago this weekend, gay patrons fought back against a police raid and, in their continued resistance, altered the course of gay rights in America and subsequently throughout the world.
The designer and Phaidon author Marc Jacobs stopped in at Stonewall a few days ago with his new husband Char Defrancesco, to mark this anniversary and launch a new t-shirt, designed by Gran Fury, the activist artist collective, proceeds from which benefit NYC’s LGBT community facility, The Center.
Meanwhile, a few blocks to the north of that famous bar, in the city’s flower district Darroch and Michael Putnam have installed a rainbow floral display at their store, Putnam & Putnam at the Moxy Hotel. “P&P is a queer owned business,” they say in an accompanying Instagram post, “and our Pride is on full display all week at our shop.”
The Brooklyn Museum provides a contemporary view of the cultural repercussions of the Stonewall riots with its show, Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall, featuring works by twenty-eight LGBTQ+ artists born after 1969 whose art “grapples with the unique conditions of our political time, and questions how moments become monuments.”
Meanwhile, New York’s Leslie-Lohman Museum and Grey Art Gallery are co-hosting Art after Stonewall, 1969-1989, a look back at the 1970s and the ‘80s, featuring works by gay artists such as Catherine Opie and Andy Warhol, and others, such as Alice Neel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lynda Benglis, who influenced the movement.
Warhol's earlier, pre-Stonewall illustrations are on show at Sperone Westwater in New York. The show, Andy Warhol By Hand: Part II Drawings 1950s – 1960s, has been overseen by the artist’s long-standing associate Vincent Fremont, and features plenty of nude male studies among its 121 works.
Andy also features in a Pride show a little further outside the city, in New Canaan, Connecticut, where the curatorial staff at Philip Johnson’s Glass House are exploring the building’s homosexual backstory with Gay Gatherings, an exhibition examining eight prominent gay men who profoundly shaped 20th-century artistic culture: the house’s architect Philip Johnson and his longtime partner, the curator and collector David Whitney; the composer John Cage; the choreographer Merce Cunningham; the ballet impresario Lincoln Kirstein; and the artists Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol.
Over on the West Coast, the Oakland Museum of California is staging an exhibition detailing the Golden State's role in art and queer culture. Entitled Queer California: Untold Stories, the exhibition features plenty of engaging inclusions, such as Gilbert Baker, creator of the original Pride flag.
Meanwhile, over in the US capital, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC, looks back at a less glorious anniversary in queer culture, with an exhibition focusing on the Corcoran's choice not to host the 1989 Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective, The Perfect Moment. As the show, entitled 6.13.89: The Cancelling of the Mapplethorpe Exhibition, explains: “On June 13, 1989, the Corcoran Gallery of Art bowed to significant political pressure and cancelled the retrospective less than three weeks before it was scheduled to open to the public.
“The show was slated to display more than 150 works by the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, known for his bold depictions of the human form. 6.13.89 will present viewers with an unvarnished look at the Corcoran’s decision to cancel the show, presenting archival materials never before seen by the public and sourced from the Corcoran Archives.”
Proof, perhaps that, as an earlier American reformer once put it, that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
For more on Marc Jacobs take a look at Marc Jacobs Illustrated; for more on Putnam & Putnam get their Flower Colour Guide; for more on The Glass House get Houses; for more on Warhol take a look at these books; for more on California's contributions to contemporary culture get California: Designing Freedom; for more on Robert Mapplethorpe get the truly beautiful Mapplethorpe Flora: The Complete Flowers; and for more on art and queer culture get - what else - Art & Queer Culture.