Queer British Art
5 April – 1 October 2017
A celebration of the art produced by the British LGBTQ community.
It’s 50 years since male homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK. But one wonders if our nation’s LGBTQ-influenced art has ever enjoyed such a high profile celebration in a public institution as this. In this exhibition Tate Britain is set to redress the balance and commemorate the change in the law.
Queer art may be mainstream now and we expect contemporary artists to challenge us. But prior to 1967, assumptions about gender and sexuality made full self expression tricky for some. It has fallen to art historians to bring formerly hidden sexual preferences and gendered identities to light.
So the surprise is not that queer artwork will go mainstream at last at Millbank. The surprise is this: curators have found enough relevant material to write a history of LGBTQ art which dates back to 1867. That’s a whole century in the closet.
As you can imagine a lot of the artwork on display here would have been personal and private. And yet there are some works, recognisably queer works, that were public statements. Both types of art must have been empowering at a time when positive terms such as 'gay', 'lesbian', 'bisexual' and 'trans' were not recognised.
With a wealth of photography and some film, Queer British Art promises to be more history lesson than visual extravaganza. And that’s despite the inclusion of work by John Singer Sargent, Dora Carrington, Duncan Grant and David Hockney.
So expect stories around the lives of these artists, and many more, which will challenge assumptions even today.