Leslie Lohman Museum

April 12 - July 7, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

Co-curated by
Jonathan David Katz and Peter Harvey

Opening Reception

April 12- 6-8 pm


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The storied homophobia of the 1950s hardly reached the young Paul Thek or the young men in his circle. His early work, arguably the gayest of his entire career, is filled with images of his lovers and close friends, including other artists such as Peter Harvey, Peter Hujar and Joseph Raffael.

In these photographs, drawings and paintings, the artists attest to the importance of their intimacy, not only unabashedly figuring their same-sex relationships, but more importantly, their influence on one another's work.

But the twined conventions of homophobia and the exclusion of gay themes by other institutions commits a type of violence on this network of male intimates, making it appear as if the mature Thek emerged alone, fully fledged.

In this exhibition, we turn back the clock, returning Thek to the context of his first emergence as an artist among the men he loved. In so doing, we model an alternative art history, attuned to the conversations among young queer artists as they became the figures we now know.

In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450 prohibiting those inclined to "sexual perversion" – members of the LGBTQ community – from working anywhere in the US Government. As a result, even at the height of the McCarthy Era, the federal government discharged more suspected homosexuals than communists.

Wilbur Pippin

Wilbur Pippin (1924-2003)
Untitled (Peter Harvey and Paul Thek in NYC), 1956
Digital enlargement
10.75 x 10.75 in.

Collection of Peter Harvey

 

Paul Thek and Peter Harvey met in Miami Beach in 1954, the year Thek left Cooper Union in New York and moved to Florida. He had been supporting himself as a hustler while developing his art. This 1956 photograph of the couple is by their friend, press photographer Wilbur Pippin. Previously, Pippin introduced Thek and Harvey to the renowned mid-century photographer George Platt Lynes.

L2013.10.25
Paul Thek

Paul Thek (1933-1988)
Untitled (Peter Harvey), 1955
Digital enlargement
13.5 x 8.8 in.

Collection of Peter Harvey

 

Harvey graduated from the University of Miami in Coral Gables in the spring of 1955 and immediately secured work doing theatrical set design, earning enough money to support Thek and free him from having to hustle to support himself.
L2013.10.5

Peter Hujar

Peter Hujar (1934-1987)
Paul Thek, n.d.
Vintage gelatin silver print
10.5 x 13.5 in.

Copyright 1987 The Peter Hujar Archive, LLC; courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Thek knew Hujar and Joe Raffael from New York, where Raffael was a student at Cooper Union with Thek, and Hujar, an up and coming professional photographer.

L2013.01.9

Peter Hujar

Peter Hujar
Young Self-Portrait (IV), 1958
Vintage gelatin silver print
10.5 x 13.5 in.

Copyright 1987 The Peter Hujar Archive, LLC; courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
L2013.01.8

 

Peter Hujar

Peter Hujar
Joseph Raffael in a Forest
c. late 1950s
Vintage gelatin silver print
12 x 9 in.

Copyright 1987 The Peter Hujar Archive, LLC; courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Hujar probably met Raffael at San Remo, a mixed queer/artist’s bar near Cooper Union. Later Raffael changed the spelling of his name by dropping the final ‘e.’ Before his involvement with Hujar,  Raffael had been in a relationship with Jules Perlmutter, whose Figures in a Garden on another wall.

L2013.01.6

Theodore Newman

Theodore Newman (1933-1975)
Peter and Two Pauls in Rhode Island (Peter Harvey, Paul Fisher, and Paul Thek) 1957
Contemporary gelatin silver print from original negative
10.25 x 10.25 in.

Collection of Peter Harvey
L2013.03.25

 

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