Where was the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or queer art in Miami Beach? We know that family members were everywhere. Art Basel draws over 2,000 artists from around the world and they fit into every genre with sections for recent works, performances, cinema, art in public places and discussion forums with the artists themselves. It is promoted as the most important show held in the United States.
Art Basel is an inundating experience according to those who have visited. The Convention Center is transformed into aisles of booths filled with galleries often showing as pieces from as many as ten artists. Shipping containers formed the "white walls" two dozen galleries to show their wares on the beach.
Certainly the affair is filled with fine art galleries showing many well-known artists and artistic works. Another group focuses on the genre of art, whether conceptual, trans-national, and other aesthetic trends dating back from the 1960s and running through today. However, the affair drew galleries with artists addressing a variety of cultural and political issues. One Brazilian gallery showed the artistic diversity of the country and merge the artistic and the political.
I asked a few people who attended about GLBTQ art. Some said that they did not notice any and they mentioned the vast amount of work displayed. Others said that they were kind of glad that the event did not have gay art, fretting over the notion of labeling things with the term "gay" as part of the old ghettoization mentality that they are glad has passed.
What art did this person have in mind? Few would draw the direct equation between lesbian and lesbian art, or gay and gay art. Yet, would the creator's sexual behavior and interest not have any influence on their works. A few months ago historian Jonathan Ned Katz argues for a gay presence in the works of the recently deceased artist Robert Rauschenberg, citing a variety of examples during the era when he and Jasper Johns lived together.
Is gay art male nudes? Are lesbians producing drawings of figures? An artist who showed at Art Basel noted that on this kind of level few if anyone would make gay art. He claimed that as art markets broaden themes have to broaden in order for the work to sell. References to HIV that this artist believes were explicit in his use of a red cross did not translate that way to potential purchasers. Many could not get beyond a literal religious interpretation despite having the artist standing beside them offering his intent.
Several gay artists argued that the decline in oppression has influenced the production of GLBTQ art. Interestingly, one of the few gay art pieces that I found attached to Art Basel came from an artist protesting the oppression of Vladimir Putin. Here's Charlie the Gay Doll
Tell me what you saw at Art Basel.