We simply cannot begin this section without mentioning Frida Kahlo. The queer feminist Mexican painter has left such an undeniably powerful impact, opening a new perspective and inquiry onto societal norms. Both Andy Warhol and Keith Haring identified as gay men and left a significant mark onto pop art. Their styles are now familiar, even to those fairly ignorant of art history. For bigger contradictions, Michelangelo, the painter of the Sistine Chapel, seemed to have also had a link to the queer community. Letters suggest that he feared his poems about his male adorations would be made public and asked to change some of the terminology to fit the heterosexual norm more. Proof that LBGTIQ+ people have always been around, and capable of groundbreaking innovations, if they weren’t able to safely come out.
Feminist art emerged in conjunction with the feminist movement, in the 1960s and 1970s, as women’s rights activists demonstrated frustrations about sexism in society. Artistic circles faced the same challenges, with scholars and activists pointing out the lack of representation of female artists told by female perspectives. Feminist art embraced various artistic techniques such as painting, performance art, body art, video, film and historically, it accompanied the issues highlighted in the socio-political atmosphere of women. These themes include sexual liberation, sexism, disrupting gender roles, sexual violence and reproductive rights to name a few.
Gay Erotic Art
Homoerotic art dates back to Ancient Greek vase art and Roman wine goblets, depicting same-sex male erotic activity. Throughout history, into modern day, homo-eroticism between men has been depicted, explicitly and implicitly. After facing such harsh prejudice, especially stereotypes of reckless sexual promiscuity as well as the religious oppression of male/male attraction, in recent times gay creatives have found empowerment in reclaiming those social messages and embracing their sexual identity. Currently, there is a large subculture of digital art pieces depicting and celebrating the aesthetics of the male body and the sensuality of the gay eroticism.
Feminist art photography
Bringing in the “female gaze” or “feminist gaze” was yet another example of paradigm shifting moments within various fields, when minorities are given (or forced) a chance. Photography made by women explored feminist themes, including female sensuality and intimacy, but also far more political representations, such as the HIV/AIDS crisis, World War II, and the Great Depression. It added a contrast to the predominantly male perspective, which, as the Guerrilla Girls’ exposition in 1989 stated “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?”, adored to shine the spotlight onto women but with very little reward in return.