At NBC News, Dan Allen reviews 13 new exhibitions about LGBTQ artists in the United States and Europe, all of them running through the summer. Highlights include photographs by Tom of Finland (New York); the “vivid, dreamlike paintings” of Kenyan-born artist Michael Armitage (London); the ’60s mod fashion of Rudi Gerneich, who was Harry Hay’s partner (Phoenix, Arizona); and Gregg Bordowitz’s AIDS-inflected video art (New York). Here’s hoping for one sometime soon on Swedish painter Eugène Jansson (1862–1915), whose masterpiece Flottans Badhus (Naval Bath House) is pictured above.
Other shows of note include the luminous youths of Henry Scott Tuke at the Watts Gallery in England, which spawned a richly illustrated catalog; “Lucian Freud’s gay relationships” with Adrian Ryan and John Minton in Bath, England (reviewed in The Guardian); sailors and sex in Barcelona; historical photographs of Cherry Grove, Fire Island; and a decorous selection of George Platt Lynes’ nude-ish photographs of men in Boston (the last two reviewed here). Plus there is the welcome news that the American LGBTQ+ Museum will gain a permanent home at the New-York Historical Society, projected to open in 2024.
The Advocate excerpts Jameson Farn’s new book Bathhouse Babylon, which offers up too much information about straight guys’ “lucky at lunch” specials and various fetishes best not mentioned in polite company. According to the author, the book is “a true, in-depth account of my former work and life in the gay saunas of North America.”
And in the Los Angeles Times, Paula Woods reviews P.J. Vernon’s new gay thriller, Bath Haus, which Vernon described as “‘Grindr thriller’ gay and hinging on toxic same-sex relationships.” Woods is not a fan: “The tropes Vernon serves up—the sugar baby, insecure older man, bitchy best friend—drown out their deeper humanity in service of the plot’s escalating peek-behind-the-curtain thrills.”
“The Subversive Joy of Lil Nas X’s Gay Pop Stardom”
In The New York Times, Jazmine Hughes profiles gay pop star Lil Nas X, whose hit song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart in April. The video features Nas in what look like sequined boyshorts lap dancing the devil. Go, Nas!
Proust at 150
In The Times Literary Supplement, Adam Watt muses on the 150th anniversary of the birth of Marcel Proust. While Watt glances over many aspects of Proust’s life and work—his Jewishness, his “closest of mother-son relationships”—his homosexuality is omitted, as are the same-sex depredations of the Baron de Charlus in In Search of Lost Time. David Hockney does get a mention for depicting the spines of an early edition of In Search… in a 1977 portrait of his parents, but what this might mean—a gay painter featuring a book by a gay author about (in part) a gay character in a painting of his parents—is not explored. Too bad.
Gay American Histories: ACT UP and Same Sex Marriage
Two new books explore, exhaustively, in over 1,500 total pages, two critical episodes in modern gay history. Let the Record Show by Sarah Schulman, reviewed in the Washington Blade, offers a “political history of ACT UP New York” from 1987 to 1993, “to help contemporary and future activists learn from the past so that they can do more effective organizing in the present.” The Engagement by Sasha Issenberg, reviewed in The Guardian, tells another story of activism, this one about “America’s quarter-century struggle over same-sex marriage.”
Gay Films at Cannes
The 74th Cannes film festival, which wraps up today, brings us at least two new “gay” films of note. Sebastian Meise’s Great Freedom, reviewed in Screen Daily, is a drama that “carefully tracks the persecution of homosexuality in Germany over the decades.
Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground, reviewed in The Hollywood Reporter, “dives deep into the story of the influential rock’n’roll band led by Lou Reed and John Cale and the creative ferment of 1960s New York City.” “The doc is not the first source to indicate the ambiguity of Reed’s sexuality back then,” writes David Rooney, “when he was penning dark, homoerotic poetry and playing regular gigs with teenage bands at the Long Island gay bar Hayloft.” The film will be released in theaters and on Apple TV+ on October 15.
Rock Hudson’s Estate for Sale
Last, the New York Post reports that Rock Hudson’s 9,600 square foot estate in Beverly Hills has gone up for sale for the first time in 24 years, with an asking price of $55.5 million. Hudson, who died in 1985, was one of the first big-name casualties of the AIDS epidemic.
Eugène Jansson, Flottans Badhus (Navy Bath House), 1907 (Thiel Gallery, Stockholm). Jansson (1862–1915) was probably gay, and much of his later work depicts nude male athletes. According to Wikipedia, “he lived his whole life together with his mother and brother” in Stockholm.