Opening Tuesday, November 29th, at 6PM
On view through Saturday, December 17th
Join us for a virtual conversation with Jonathan D. Katz, distinguished scholar and curator of the exhibition The First Homosexuals: Global Depictions of a New Identity, 1869-1930. The term “homosexual,” first coined in Europe in 1869, reduced the complexity of sexuality to the simple binary of homosexual and not. The exhibition explores the social and cultural parameters of same-sex desire through over 100 works created within 50 years of the term’s origin. Who were the “first homosexuals”? How did they define themselves and how were they understood within the dominant culture? In this virtual lecture, Katz explores these questions, elaborating on his impetus for the exhibition and highlighting key works.
About the Exhibition
The First Homosexuals: Global Depictions of a New Identity, 1869-1930 takes as its starting point the year 1869, when the word “homosexual” was first coined in Europe, inaugurating the idea of same-sex desire as the basis for a new identity category. On view will be more than 100 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, and film clips—drawn from public and private collections around the globe and including a number of national treasures which have never before been allowed to travel outside their countries. This groundbreaking exhibition offers the first multi-medium survey of the very first self-consciously queer art, exploring what the “first homosexuals” understood themselves to be, how dominant culture, in turn, understood them, and how the codes of representation they employed offer us previously unknown glimpses into the social and cultural meanings of same-sex desire.
The First Homosexuals is being organized in two parts, due to COVID-related delays, with part one opening on October 1 with approximately 100 works, and on view only at Wrightwood 659. Three years from now, in 2025, 250 masterworks will be gathered at Wrightwood 659 for part two of The First Homosexuals in an exhibition which will travel internationally and be accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue.
The exhibition is being developed by a team of 23 international scholars led by art historian Jonathan D. Katz, Professor of Practice in the History of Art and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, with associate curator Johnny Willis.
PLEASE NOTE: This exhibition contains sexually explicit content. For mature audiences only.