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artQueer

TURNING A QUEER EYE TO ART

Posts tagged Demuth

Feb 23 '12
I just finished this book last night. It ends oddly, but it’s another must read.

Speaking for ViceHomosexuality in the Art of Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and the First American Avant-Garde 
by Jonathan Weinberg
yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300062540
"There is a crusade against vice in Lancaster … I am going home to speak for vice." — Charles Demuth
Demuth’s ironic response to the news that a vice investigation was underway in Lancaster in the early-teens provides the title and epigraph to Jonathan Weinberg’s pioneering exploration of homosexuality in American modernist art. He focuses on the paintings of Charles Demuth and of his friend and fellow member of the Stieglitz Circle Marsden Hartley, showing the many ways in which the homosexual culture of the years between the wars informs their work and that of other artists.

I just finished this book last night. It ends oddly, but it’s another must read.

Speaking for Vice
Homosexuality in the Art of Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and the First American Avant-Garde 

by Jonathan Weinberg

"There is a crusade against vice in Lancaster … I am going home to speak for vice." — Charles Demuth

Demuth’s ironic response to the news that a vice investigation was underway in Lancaster in the early-teens provides the title and epigraph to Jonathan Weinberg’s pioneering exploration of homosexuality in American modernist art. He focuses on the paintings of Charles Demuth and of his friend and fellow member of the Stieglitz Circle Marsden Hartley, showing the many ways in which the homosexual culture of the years between the wars informs their work and that of other artists.

Dec 6 '11
Charles DemuthOn “That” StreetWatercolor on paper1932

Charles Demuth
On “That” Street
Watercolor on paper
1932

Dec 5 '11
Charles DemuthMen at a BarWatercolor on paper1912

Charles Demuth
Men at a Bar
Watercolor on paper
1912

Dec 5 '11
Charles DemuthEight O’clock (Morning #2)Watercolor and graphite on paper1917

Charles Demuth
Eight O’clock (Morning #2)
Watercolor and graphite on paper
1917

Dec 5 '11
Charles DemuthEight O’clock (Early Morning)Watercolor on paper1917

Charles Demuth
Eight O’clock (Early Morning)
Watercolor on paper
1917

Dec 5 '11
Charles DemuthSemi-nude FiguresWatercolor on paper1916
glbtq.com/arts/demuth_c.html
One  of America’s first modernist painters, Charles Demuth was also one of  the earliest artists in this country to expose his gay identity through  forthright, positive depictions of homosexual desire. Demuth, the son of  a successful merchant, had the financial freedom to pursue his artistic  vision without debilitating regard for public opinion—concerning  either aesthetics or sexuality—while his talent ensured that even the  most provocative works were of unassailable quality.

Charles Demuth
Semi-nude Figures
Watercolor on paper
1916

One of America’s first modernist painters, Charles Demuth was also one of the earliest artists in this country to expose his gay identity through forthright, positive depictions of homosexual desire. Demuth, the son of a successful merchant, had the financial freedom to pursue his artistic vision without debilitating regard for public opinion—concerning either aesthetics or sexuality—while his talent ensured that even the most provocative works were of unassailable quality.

Dec 5 '11
Charles DemuthMan in BlazerWatercolor and pencil on paper c.1916
glbtq.com/arts/demuth_c.html
Demuth  was exposed to Cubism and other pictorial innovations during a 1907  trip to Paris, lessons that were reinforced by subsequent visits to  Alfred Steiglitz’s New York City gallery, “291,” a beachhead of  modernism. In that context, Auguste Rodin’s erotic figure studies and  John Marin’s expressionistic watercolors were particularly inspiring,  and by 1912 Demuth’s own work began to exhibit modernist  characteristics.
In 1912, he commenced a relationship with fellow Lancasterian, Robert Locher, who was to be his life partner.

Charles Demuth
Man in Blazer
Watercolor and pencil on paper
c.1916

Demuth was exposed to Cubism and other pictorial innovations during a 1907 trip to Paris, lessons that were reinforced by subsequent visits to Alfred Steiglitz’s New York City gallery, “291,” a beachhead of modernism. In that context, Auguste Rodin’s erotic figure studies and John Marin’s expressionistic watercolors were particularly inspiring, and by 1912 Demuth’s own work began to exhibit modernist characteristics.

In 1912, he commenced a relationship with fellow Lancasterian, Robert Locher, who was to be his life partner.

Dec 5 '11
Charles DemuthThe Purple PupWatercolor and pencil on paper c.1918
frounch.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-demuth-and-bad-boys.html
Demuth was friendly with Edith Sitwell, the artist, writer and lesbian Djuna Barnes, and Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) a homosexual and at that time music reviewer for the New York Times, later a distinguished photographer.
"Watercolor was his favorite medium, wrote Vechten about Demuth. "It fitted his exquisite tastes, and with it he expressed with extraordinary precision and delicacy of perception the things that interested him most. Vaudeville and theatrical reviews he loved, and in numerous watercolors he does for the New York night club and music hall stage of his day what Lautrec did for the Paris circus the 1890’s. Against his backgroung of classical neatness and refinement, he wittily pointed up the encroachments of industrial chimneys and metal watertanks. Finally, he illustrated, though not for publication, a number of stories and plays. Here, then, is an artist who has left us as rich and varied a mine of subject matter as any modern American I can think of. Yet all of it is of a piece and in all of it one can trace equally the growth of his personal style and the influences that helped to form it."

Charles Demuth
The Purple Pup
Watercolor and pencil on paper
c.1918

Demuth was friendly with Edith Sitwell, the artist, writer and lesbian Djuna Barnes, and Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) a homosexual and at that time music reviewer for the New York Times, later a distinguished photographer.

"Watercolor was his favorite medium, wrote Vechten about Demuth. "It fitted his exquisite tastes, and with it he expressed with extraordinary precision and delicacy of perception the things that interested him most. Vaudeville and theatrical reviews he loved, and in numerous watercolors he does for the New York night club and music hall stage of his day what Lautrec did for the Paris circus the 1890’s. Against his backgroung of classical neatness and refinement, he wittily pointed up the encroachments of industrial chimneys and metal watertanks. Finally, he illustrated, though not for publication, a number of stories and plays. Here, then, is an artist who has left us as rich and varied a mine of subject matter as any modern American I can think of. Yet all of it is of a piece and in all of it one can trace equally the growth of his personal style and the influences that helped to form it."

Dec 5 '11
Charles DemuthFour Male Nudes

Charles Demuth
Four Male Nudes

Dec 5 '11
Charles DemuthTwo SailorsPencil on paper1930
glbtq.com/arts/demuth_c.html
When several exhibitions refused to include Distinguished Air,  Demuth responded by creating overtly homoerotic watercolors of sailors  disrobing, fondling themselves, and even urinating in each other’s  company.
These works were executed during a two-year period near the end of  his life, when a lifelong illness forced Demuth to leave his  cosmopolitan surroundings and return to his conservative, small-town  Pennsylvania birthplace. These works constitute a display of courage and  self-respect that would not soon be repeated by other gay artists.

Charles Demuth
Two Sailors
Pencil on paper
1930

When several exhibitions refused to include Distinguished Air, Demuth responded by creating overtly homoerotic watercolors of sailors disrobing, fondling themselves, and even urinating in each other’s company.

These works were executed during a two-year period near the end of his life, when a lifelong illness forced Demuth to leave his cosmopolitan surroundings and return to his conservative, small-town Pennsylvania birthplace. These works constitute a display of courage and self-respect that would not soon be repeated by other gay artists.

Dec 5 '11
Charles DemuthAt Marshall’sWatercolor and pencil on paper 1915
demuth.org/index.php?pID=66
"During his regular trips to New York from his Lancaster home, Demuth  would gather with fellow artists, writers and intellectuals in the  city’s newly emerging jazz clubs, hotel cafés and basement bars. In At Marshall’s, Demuth depicts artists Marcel Duchamp, Edward Fisk and Marsden Hartley in the jazz bar of the Marshall Hotel.”

Charles Demuth
At Marshall’s
Watercolor and pencil on paper
1915

"During his regular trips to New York from his Lancaster home, Demuth would gather with fellow artists, writers and intellectuals in the city’s newly emerging jazz clubs, hotel cafés and basement bars. In At Marshall’s, Demuth depicts artists Marcel Duchamp, Edward Fisk and Marsden Hartley in the jazz bar of the Marshall Hotel.”

Dec 5 '11
Charles DemuthAt “The Golden Swan,” Sometimes Called the “Hell Hole” Watercolor and pencil on paper 1919
"Upon arriving in New York from his hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania,  Charles Demuth was immediately drawn to the Bohemian culture of  Greenwich Village.  He spent much of his early career indulging in and  capturing the vitality of the city’s vaudeville, cabaret and nightclubs.   In At “The Golden Swan,” Sometimes Called “Hell Hole” the  artist depicts himself and Marcel Duchamp, the acclaimed French Dadaist,  seated at the left table of the popular meeting spot for young artists  and bohemians.  Other patrons included the artist John Sloan, who  produced an etching of the bar in 1917, and the playwright Eugene  O’Neill, who incorporated it into some of his plays including The Iceman Cometh.”

Charles Demuth
At “The Golden Swan,” Sometimes Called the “Hell Hole”
Watercolor and pencil on paper
1919

"Upon arriving in New York from his hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Charles Demuth was immediately drawn to the Bohemian culture of Greenwich Village. He spent much of his early career indulging in and capturing the vitality of the city’s vaudeville, cabaret and nightclubs. In At “The Golden Swan,” Sometimes Called “Hell Hole” the artist depicts himself and Marcel Duchamp, the acclaimed French Dadaist, seated at the left table of the popular meeting spot for young artists and bohemians. Other patrons included the artist John Sloan, who produced an etching of the bar in 1917, and the playwright Eugene O’Neill, who incorporated it into some of his plays including The Iceman Cometh.”

Dec 5 '11
Charles DemuthDistinguished AirWatercolor and graphite on paper1930
Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time: Charles Demuth, Distinguished Air, 1930 
whitney.org/WatchAndListen/AudioGuides?play_id=177
ADAM WEINBERG - In Distinguished Air Charles Demuth portrays a group of people looking at  the modernist sculpture Princess X, by Constantin Brancusi. Demuth  exaggerates the unmistaably phallic form of Princess X perhaps to draw  attention to an inherent paradox in Brancusi’s (supposedly abstract)  sculpture.
RICHARD MEYER - It’s almost as though Brancusi himself is playing on: are  people going to acknowledge they’re looking at a giant penis, you know,  or are they going to pretend it’s just a kind of, um, erect, uh,  abstraction?”
ADAM WEINBERG -  Demuth renders Princess X, originally made in bronze, in watercolor and  adorns it with a face. It has become cartoon-like and fleshy. But not  everyone in the painting is focused on it. The man on the left, with the  woman, peers at the backside of the sailor next to him, who, in turn,  is arm in arm with the “dandy” character to his right. So, it appears,  that even in the presence of this artful phallus, at least one of the  visitors is more interested in the real thing. And while the visitors  are poised to look at the art, Demuth places us behind the men to focus  on the sexual politics of the scene. Distinguished Air is a short story by Robert McAlmon. Richard Meyer explains that the watercolor depicts an imagined scene from the story.
RICHARD MEYER - So the narrator of the story Distinguished Air—a  young attractive woman named Marjorie, is living in Berlin, and she  becomes close friends with Foster Graham, who is the protagonist. And  he’s the man that you see in Demuth’s version wearing a top hat  and holding a cane and sort of craning his neck slightly to try to  get a better view of the sailors from behind.
But  here early in the story the narrator, Marjorie, asks Graham if he wants  to go to a gallery. Now I’m quoting the story, “’I’m just heading for  Der Sturm to see what new has been hung in the exhibition rooms there.  Do you want to come along? Some of the paintings are apt to be as  frenzied as you are and it’ll pass away an hour.’ His response: ‘Good  me, Marjorie, I just love art. I love art,’ Foster minced, unable to be  direct for over a moment. ‘Will there be some pretty pictures of naked  boys? I just love art. It’s too exquisite. So glad you asked me along…’”

Charles Demuth
Distinguished Air
Watercolor and graphite on paper
1930

Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time: Charles Demuth, Distinguished Air, 1930 

ADAM WEINBERG - In Distinguished Air Charles Demuth portrays a group of people looking at the modernist sculpture Princess X, by Constantin Brancusi. Demuth exaggerates the unmistaably phallic form of Princess X perhaps to draw attention to an inherent paradox in Brancusi’s (supposedly abstract) sculpture.

RICHARD MEYER - It’s almost as though Brancusi himself is playing on: are people going to acknowledge they’re looking at a giant penis, you know, or are they going to pretend it’s just a kind of, um, erect, uh, abstraction?”

ADAM WEINBERG - Demuth renders Princess X, originally made in bronze, in watercolor and adorns it with a face. It has become cartoon-like and fleshy. But not everyone in the painting is focused on it. The man on the left, with the woman, peers at the backside of the sailor next to him, who, in turn, is arm in arm with the “dandy” character to his right. So, it appears, that even in the presence of this artful phallus, at least one of the visitors is more interested in the real thing. And while the visitors are poised to look at the art, Demuth places us behind the men to focus on the sexual politics of the scene. Distinguished Air is a short story by Robert McAlmon. Richard Meyer explains that the watercolor depicts an imagined scene from the story.

RICHARD MEYER - So the narrator of the story Distinguished Air—a young attractive woman named Marjorie, is living in Berlin, and she becomes close friends with Foster Graham, who is the protagonist. And he’s the man that you see in Demuth’s version wearing a top hat and holding a cane and sort of craning his neck slightly to try to get a better view of the sailors from behind.

But here early in the story the narrator, Marjorie, asks Graham if he wants to go to a gallery. Now I’m quoting the story, “’I’m just heading for Der Sturm to see what new has been hung in the exhibition rooms there. Do you want to come along? Some of the paintings are apt to be as frenzied as you are and it’ll pass away an hour.’ His response: ‘Good me, Marjorie, I just love art. I love art,’ Foster minced, unable to be direct for over a moment. ‘Will there be some pretty pictures of naked boys? I just love art. It’s too exquisite. So glad you asked me along…’”