Over the last few years, several museums in Europe have organized an LGBT trail, i.e. a self-guided trail following LGBT themes through the museums’ collections. The British Museum and the Prado are both prominent examples. No museum in the US has ever put together such a trail until now, when the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford has launched one. The trail, called “Out On View,” covers 16 artworks spread through the museum.
The Wadsworth has a particularly rich LGBT collection. This is partly due to the influence of the Director in the 20’s-40’s, A, Everett “Chick” Austin. Austin was an important member of the (closeted) LGBT art scene in pre-war New York. He created a connection between the Wadsworth and a number of prominent LGBT artists of his day, while also purchasing a number of homoerotic works for the collection from earlier periods. It is an ideal museum for America’s first LGBT trail.Rather than giving examples, I am just going to give you a link to the exhibit. You can explore the trail for yourself on line. As you will see, it contains works from different cultures and with a variety of relations to the LGBT experience.
There are works from pre-modern cultures where gender and sexuality were experienced differently; works by modern LGBT artists; and portraits of LGBT people. There are works relevant to the gay male experience, the lesbian experience, and the trans experience, as well as works by and about queer people of color. Works range from an ancient Roman statuette to a Meissen figurine and a 20th century American photograph. Artists on the trail include Caravaggio and Frederic Leighton; Florine Stettheimer and Charles Demuth; David Hockney and Kehinde Wiley.
Note that Professor Lear, who designed the trail, will offer tours of it on Saturday July 13 and Saturday August 25, 2019, both at noon. The trail is also connected to an exhibit called “Be Seen: Portrait Photography since Stonewall.”