Leslie Lohman Museum

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Art and desire make a potent combination, and there is nothing like a little prohibition thrown in to make it more exciting.

Through the work of 25 artists, this exhibition tells an important story about how art – really good work – served to fill a void in men’s lives at a time when their society, and often their own families, abandoned a critical part of their identity. Despite the power of this work and its impact on a major segment of the gay population, it is still shunned simply because some fear its content.

This work represents art that was printed in magazines designed for gay men and available on nearly every street corner or local drug store in America from the 1950s to the 1990s. More likely than not, when the magazines were purchased, they were secreted away in a private place.

This is the work of artists who made beautiful work depicting intimate, sexy relationships between men, sometimes with more than one partner, but always with the intention of connecting us with the humanity shown. These works allow us to visualize the reality of a physical relationship with an object of our desire. They were created specifically to tell us that our desire wasn’t an aberration, but was in fact a common, normal impulse.

A victim of the technologically diverse digital age, the heyday for gay male magazines has passed, but the work of these artists endures and still continues to be made.

Antonio Lopez (Antonio)
American (1943 – 1987)
Antonio Lopez was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York City when he was seven. Alongside his partner Juan Ramos, Antonio became one of the most prolific fashion illustrators of his time. In 1963, at the age of 22, he was earning $1,000 per work. Andy Warhol praised him for his ‘journalist’s eye.”

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Antonio worked for Women's Wear Daily before joining The New York Times.

Living in New York and Paris, he worked closely with prominent fashion icons such as Karl Lagerfeld, and his portraits of models Jessica Lange, Jerry Hall, and Grace Jones propelled them to international fame. Jerry Hall said, “I didn’t really know what I looked like until Antonio. He didn’t draw me as I was, but as I should be.”

Antonio's vibrant illustrations are reflective of the high fashion, disco world in which he lived, and he remains a figure studied in art and design. Antonio has been the subject of several museum retrospectives and published monographs.

He died at age 44 from AIDS-related illness.


Antonio

Antonio
(Antonio Lopez)
Fragmented Male Studies III, 1980
Pencil on paper
23 x 30 in.
Courtesy of the estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos


Antonio

Antonio
(Antonio Lopez)
Male Studies 1, 1980
Pencil and watercolor on paper
30 x 23 in.
Courtesy of the estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos


Antonio

Antonio
(Antonio Lopez)
Mike Haire 1, 1983
Watercolor and pencil on paper
23 x 15 in.
Courtesy of the estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos


Antonio

Antonio
(Antonio Lopez)
Portrait Bill “Blast” Cordero 2, 1986
Acrylic on paper
30 x 23 in.
Courtesy of the estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos


Antonio

Antonio
(Antonio Lopez)
Untitled, 1985
Acrylic on paper
23 x 30 in.
Courtesy of the estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos


Antonio

Antonio
(Antonio Lopez)
Untitled, 1982
Pencil on paper
17 x 14 in.
Courtesy of the estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos


Antonio

Antonio
(Antonio Lopez)
Urban Warrior Portrait 2, 1982
Pencil on paper
30 x 23 in.
Courtesy of the estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos


Antonio

Antonio
(Antonio Lopez)
Urban Warrior Portrait 2, 1982
Pencil on paper
30 x 23 in.
Courtesy of the estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos

Bastille (Frank Webber)
American (1929-1990)

Born in Hackensack, New Jersey on July 14, Bastille studied illustration at the Pratt Institute. After that, he worked in the metal engraving studio of John Friedlander in Paris.

In the late 1950s, he began illustrating for French fashion magazines and American magazines such as Esquire. By the late 1960s, he was publishing homoerotic work in American physique magazines under the name “Bal.” His meticulously rendered gouache and tempera painting style was developed around 1980. He was heavily influenced by the writings of Jean Genet, W.S. Burroughs, and Pierre Guyotat.

Bastille’s erotic work became more widely known in the 1980s, with exhibitions in Amsterdam and New York. Although he died in 1990, celebrations and tributes to his subversive, hardcore art continue to this day.


Bastille

Bastille
(Frank Webber)
Flipper, 1987
Gouache on board
10.5 x 8.25 in.
Collection of Volker Morlock


Bastille

Bastille
(Frank Webber)
Red Cap, 1986
Gouache on board
9.25 x 6.5 in.
Collection of Volker Morlock

BEAU (Kevin King)
American (b. 1959)

A Hollywood-based artist, BEAU was born in Oakland, California and studied art and costume design at the University of California Berkeley before moving to Hollywood, where he worked as a costume designer for television, film, and theatre.

After a magazine editor spotted his erotic art, he was convinced to expand his efforts under a pseudonym. BEAU’s work, saturated in color and reminiscent of American realist painting, has appeared in various publications and media, including Advocate Men, Freshmen, and Torso.

“Who would decline an invitation to life's grand discothèque?” he asks. “I certainly didn't. Why should you? Stick with me, I'll show you a good time: past, present, and future.”


BEAU

BEAU
(Kevin King)
Pinned, 1997
Oil on paper
23 x 16.5 in.
Leslie-Lohman Collection, Founders' gift


BEAU

BEAU
(Kevin King)
The Act (Advocate Men), 1999
Oil on paper
23 x 16.5 in.
Leslie-Lohman Collection, Founders' gift

Blade (Carlyle Kneeland Bate, also known as Neel Bate)
American (1916-1989)

Originally from Washington and educated at the Cornish School of Art, Blade joined the Merchant Marines and sailed on tankers around the world, spending his free time sketching his shipmates.

Arriving in New York in the late 1940s, he earned a living as a designer, creating residential wall patterns and interiors. Concurrently, he was creating homoerotic art for his own enjoyment and that of his friends. He deliberately kept it underground.

When his first series, The Barn (1947-1948), was created and distributed, it was quickly confiscated. The New York Police Department arrested those who attempted to circulate copies of the images. Shortly thereafter, bootlegged copies of these prints were made and traded underground with none of the proceeds going to the artist. In addition, all of his original work done prior to the mid-1950s was stolen from him at gunpoint in 1956.

Blade is often considered a precursor to Tom of Finland, Rex, and others, as many of these artists trace their first consciousness of genuinely and overtly gay images to the badly photocopied editions of The Barn.

Into the 1970s and 1980s, Blade made work for many magazines, including Mandate, Skin, and Advocate Men. He wrote fiction which often accompanied the illustrations.

In 1980, the Stompers and the Leslie-Lohman Gallery (the commercial precursor to the Leslie Lohman Gay Art Foundation) reconstructed and republished The Barn. Blade left his entire artistic estate to the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation upon his death. The Museum now owns more than 400 pieces of Blade’s work, including many photographic slides believed to have been taken by George Platt Lynes.


Blade

Blade
(Carlyle Kneeland Bate)
Untitled, c. 1975-1985
Color pencil on paper
19 x 24 in.
Leslie-Lohman Collection, Gift of the estate of the artist


Blade

Blade
(Carlyle Kneeland Bate)
Untitled, c. 1975-1986
Ink and color pencil on paper
22 x 15 in.
Leslie-Lohman Collection, Gift of the estate of the artist


Blade

Blade
(Carlyle Kneeland Bate)
Untitled, c. 1975-1987
Graphite on tracing paper
17 x 14 in.
Leslie-Lohman Collection, Gift of the estate of the artist


Blade

Blade
(Carlyle Kneeland Bate)
Untitled, 1976
Ink on paper
8 x 7.25 in.
Leslie-Lohman Collection, Gift of the estate of the artist


Blade

Blade
(Carlyle Kneeland Bate)
Untitled, c. 1975-1985
Graphite on tracing paper
14 x 17 in.
Leslie-Lohman Collection, Gift of the estate of the artist

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