Creativity has always been an essential element of the LGBT community. Artists like Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin and Morrisey were objects of tense discussions in terms of contemporary art. However, their bright personalities cast gloom on underrecognized gay artists who also form up modern culture. These eight featured artists deserve to be known.

 

Adi Nes

This Israeli photographer makes images facing war, sexuality, life and death. In his works, he questions about these issues in the context of Israeli culture. “The beginning point of my art is who I am,” he says. “Since I’m a man and I’m an Israeli, I deal with issues of identity with ‘Israeli-ness’ and masculinity, but my photographs are multi-layered.”

Last Supper, Adi Nes

Nes creates pictures with some personal dimension which display life in a country during a conflict. Stylistically they all remind of Renaissance or Baroque paintings of Carravagio or Rubens and rely on collective cultural memory. The sexual aspect of his works reveals in his experiments with homoeroticism. By that he aims to wake up universal humanism in the contemporary art world.

Catherine Opie

This US artist paid vivid interest to photography from her early ages. Her art path started at the age of nine when she portrayed her relatives and neighbours. Now the spectrum of her creativity along to portraits includes landscapes, group compositions and even a film. The focus of her research is relations between communities and sexual identity. As a photographer, she draws parallels between personal space and place of common use.

Papa Beard, Catherine Opie

Besides portrait photography, Opie also explores the nature of human identity through landscapes and iconic images. Through her documentary photo projects, she investigates members of LGBT community.

Mickalene Thomas

Contemporary African-American artist dives into an examination of the popular characterization of black female identity, celebrity, and sexuality. Thomas introduces her own vision of women nature and makes this definition wider. The way she represents the beauty of the female body is based on the long way of studying art history, portraiture and classic still life.

La leçon d’amour, Mickalene Thomas

The vibrant pattern of Thomas‘ works crafted with acrylic, rhinestones and enamel was inspired by her childhood. The artist focuses on powerful women like her mother, celebrities or most influential art figures. Her 2010 photograph Le déjeuner sur l’herbe: Le Trois Femme Noires is a re-stage of Edouard Manet’s famous picture, where the figures were substituted by provocatively dressed black women. Thus, Thomas draws attention to relations of black woman to art history and culture.

K8 Hardy

K8 Hardy is a multidisciplinary New-York based artist and a founding member of the feminist journal and artist collective LTTR. Some of her works are exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art.  Hardy’s photographs, performances and sculptures face issues of class, race and gender. By placing herself as the subject of her own work, she refers to the tradition of male artists objectifying female models.

She is known for her fashion experiments as well as video performances and sculptures. She now works on her documentary about Hardy’s changing styles.

Heather Cassils

Canadian performance artist and body-builder, Heather Cassils is famous for his plays in the US and outside. The playing with body art, gay male aesthetics and extreme physical training brought Cassils high appreciation. Heather won numerous scholarships for his creativity and the main concept, which can be determined as the fight against the common view.

I resist the idea that you have to live as a man or as a woman,” Cassils explains. “The crux of my work is to create something that isn’t so black-and-white.”

The artist has also adapted his own female body into a physical shape, challenging dominated in modern culture binary gender idea.

Gilbert & George

Gilbert & George started working together in 1967 when went to the same School of Art. Artists believe that anything can be a potential subject for their creativity. Street signs, Ginkgo trees, chewing gum stains on the pavement – all these things were highlighted in their piece of art. Their philosophy is that art’s essential need is artist’s sacrifice and personal contribution.

They depicted themselves naked in their pictures to show the male body at its fragile side rather than a symbol of strength and power. Gilbert & George always touched social issues and, moreover, explored the most fundamental elements of human being existence: sex, religion, violence, fear, addiction and death.

Perfume Genius

Perfume Genius is the stage name of Seatle-based music artist Mike Hadreas. Under a tough time, when he had drug and alcohol addiction, he started writing his first songs, inspired by AKA Liz Phair, PJ Harvey and Alanis Morissette. His music is often about himself: confused, frightened, seeking refuge.

In 2012 Mike got attention from the public thanks to his controversial music album, which was deemed not “family safe” as it showed two men in underwear hugging. Such a reaction faced double standards considering similar heterosexual videos gaining more acceptance.

I’ve seen faces of blank terror when I walk by. Sometimes from seemingly strong, macho dudes — somehow my presence confuses and ultimately scares them. There is a strange power to it that I’ve only recently begun to understand and embrace. After many years trying to sort out exactly what they are scared of, most of the time converting the result into personal shame, there are now moments of monstrous pride.

Bob the Drag Queen

This well-known as a champion of RuPaul’s Drag Race drag queen before a hilarious victory on the show was a successful stand-up comedian and actor Christopher Caldwell. Bob the Drag Queen makes his performances unapologetically political and high-energetical.

Outspoken transgender rights supporter, Bob admits that to be queer public figure is not that easy, without paying any attention to politics. In this connection, Bob adds that current US president Trump likes to pander to insecurities and fears. “Trump doesn’t understand [the LGBTQ community]. People often fear what they don’t understand, and if you can invoke fear, that’s the fastest way to get a reaction.”

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