5 Queer Art Shows to See In New York City Right Now

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn in New York's West Village was the site of a massive protest that sparked the modern LGBT rights movement. As we approach Stonewall's 50th anniversary, New York is playing host to a variety of exhibitions that explore the past, present and future of the queer community through art. 


"Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall," Brooklyn Museum

Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski Instructions for Freedom Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski (French, born 1985). "Instructions for a Freedom," 2015. Gouache, watercolor, tea, and marker on paper, 41½ × 96 in. (105.4 × 243.8 cm). Private collection. Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski

May 3–December 8, 2019

There's still time to see "Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving," the Brooklyn Museum's expansive view of the trailblazing queer artist, but for its big Pride show, the institution is mounting  "Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall," an exploration of the riots legacy today through the work of 22 LGBTQ+ artists born since 1969.

Through sections devoted to Revolt, Heritage, Desire, and Care, artist like John Edmonds, Juliana Huxtable, Park McArthur, Tuesday Smillie, Hugo Gyrl and Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski "grapple with the unique conditions of our political time, and question how moments become monuments," according to the museum. (The show's title is a reference to trans activist Marsha P. Johnson's rallying cry.)

Newly commissioned works include LJ Roberts’ large sculpture Storme at Stonewall and Salacia, a film by Tourmaline about a black transgender woman living in 19th-century New York.

"Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now," Guggenheim Museum

Robert Mapplethorpe, Self Portrait, Robert Mapplethorpe, Self Portrait, 1985. Gelatin silver print, 38.7 x 40.5 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Gift, The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Part I: January 25–July 10, 2019; Part II: July 24, 2019–January 5, 2020
It wasn't until Robert Mapplethorpe was given a Polaroid camera by Met Museum curator John McKendry in 1971 that he began exploring photography in earnest. Drawn from the Guggenheim's extensive Mapplethorpe holdings, "Implicit Tensions" explores his impact on the medium with provocative and iconic works that have defined his career, from erotically charged nudes to celebrity portraits to haunting self-portraits. 

The exhibition's second phase, which launches July 24, addresses Mapplethorpe’s legacy, with a selection of his photographs alongside works by contemporary artists like Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Lyle Ashton Harris, Glenn Ligon, Zanele Muholi, Catherine Opie, and Paul Mpagi Sepuya.


"Art After Stonewall, 1969-1989," Leslie Lohman Museum

art after stonewall Marsha P. Johnson Diana Davies, "Marsha P. Johnson at the Gay rights demonstration," Albany, New York, 1971. Digital C-print, 9.75 x 13.5in. Collection of the Leslie-Lohman Museum
Through July 21

Leslie-Lohman is the nation's first museum dedicated to queer art, so its fitting that it's the home to the first major exhibition to explore how the LGBT rights movement impacted the art world.

Featuring more than 150 work (including pieces on view at NYU's Grey Art Gallery) "Art after Stonewall" includes works by Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, and others, arranged into themes—Coming Out, Sexual Outlaws, The Uses of the Erotic, Gender and Body, Things are Queer, AIDS and Activism, and We’re Here.


Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern

Walker Evans. Lincoln Kirstein Walker Evans. Lincoln Kirstein. c. 1931 MoMA

Through June 15

Though he's not as well-known as many of his contemporaries, Lincoln Kirstein helped define American cultural life in the 1930s and ’40s. Best known for cofounding the New York City Ballet, Kirstein (1909-1996) was also a writer, critic, curator and tastemaker at the epicenter of a network of queer artists, intimates and collaborators.

He was also a crucial influence in MoMA’s early history, as this show reveals through nearly 300 rarely seen works—includes set and costume designs by Paul Cadmus and Jared French, photographs by Walker Evans and George Platt Lynes, realist and magic-realist paintings by Honoré Sharrer and Pavel Tchelitchew, sculpture by Elie Nadelman and Gaston Lachaise, and Latin American art Kirstein acquired for the Museum by artists such as Antonio Berni and Raquel Forner.  


Superfine! Art Fair

Ian Shatilla Nailed Superfine Ian Shatilla, "Nailed" (2018). 4x20x 2 oil on panel. Supefine/BBAM! Gallery

May 1-5, 2019
107 Grand Street

Most of the shows here reflect on the past, but this traveling fair is squarely centered on where art is at today, with more than 1,500 works by 80+ LGBT and ally artists for sale in Soho. James Miille and Alex Mitow, the couple organizing Superfine!, the goal is to make art accessible and affordable. (A majority of pieces in the fair are under $1,000.)

Keep an eye out for Call Me By Your Preferred Pronoun, a commissioned project from Brooklyn artist Adam Chuck, which reimagines Oliver and Elio, the camera-ready couple from last year's gay romance, as different queer pairings.

Making its Superfine! debut is Provincetown’s On Center Gallery, with cutting-edge works by LGBT artists including Andrew Moncrief and Thom Jackson.



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