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Between You and Me: Queer Disclosures in the New York Art World, 1948–1963 Paperback – September 20, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Provocative and enlightening, if sometimes awkward and jargon heavy, Butt's book uses gossip to analyze the works of gay New York artists of the period between the Kinsey Report and Stonewall. In five chapters, the professor of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College, University of London, argues for the value of gossip in critical art history (particularly when the artist is gay or suspected to be) and skillfully lays out the art world and sexual climate of the McCarthy era before tackling the work of key artists, including Larry Rivers, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. Butt's considerations of these three artists through the lens of usually overlooked or dismissed gossip is the work's strongest feature. How Rivers' fragmented paintings function like visual gossip; how tattle was formative to Warhol's coolly detached persona; and how rumors surrounding Johns' "Target with Plaster Casts" radically reshape its interpretation and place in art history are all keenly presented. The frequent inclusion of first person interjections like "I would venture," "I want to suggest," or "I contend" become annoying and add nothing to Butt's argument. Nevertheless, Butt's fresh critical tactics and perspectives on gay visual culture make this a highly engaging read.
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Review

Between You and Me is a brilliant read that flirtatiously winks and kisses its way through the New York art world of the postwar period, turning our favorite icons inside out and back in again. It’s all in the gossip. Larry Rivers painted a ‘visual gossip column’ and was described by Frank O’Hara as a ‘demented telephone,’ but it takes a smart flirt (the best kind) like Gavin Butt to see gossip’s methodological promise. Taking gossip into his own mouthy hands, Butt slurs the studios of Rivers, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol with their own reckless talk: kisses turn into smacks, and winks into home runs. (Between you and me, that’s how I like it.)”—Carol Mavor, author of Becoming: The Photographs of Clementina, Viscountess Hawarden


Between You and Me is boldly original and beautifully written. Gavin Butt renders a rich (which is to say dishy) description of a queer past that might enable us to imagine a queer futurity. His book will stand as a lasting contribution to queer theory and visual cultural studies and, perhaps more importantly, serve as a political and methodological wake-up call to the discourse of art history.”—José Esteban Muñoz, coeditor of Pop Out: Queer Warhol


“Queers do sing, if only in each other's ears. In his new Queer Studies book Between You and Me, art historian Gavin Butt . . . delves into the rampant gay social scene that accompanied the Pop Art era, in which so many pivotal figures were as gay as periwinkle pasta.”
(Roberto Friedman, Bay Area Reporter)

“Between You and Me is a nimble book—balancing a self-consciousness about what it means to work on the most ephemeral of subjects, what it means to deploy gossip as a critical strategy, and how gossip figures in both the content and the form of art from this period. The result is a portrait of the evolution of new kinds of artistic personas, and a map for producing new methodologies for writing about them.”
(Jennifer Doyle, American Quarterly)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (September 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822334984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822334989
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,069,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert Summers on October 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Gavin Butt, in his new book Between You and Me, takes up artists such as Larry Rivers, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol and their artwork by utilizing "traditional" forms of art-historical research and analysis, but he also utilizes gossip and rumor-those extremely un-academic (anti-academic?) discourses that Butt refuses to redeem or valorize, which is an important stance to take as a self-proclaimed "queer art historian" doing queer work, given, I would argue, there is nothing about gossip, rumor, or other unconventional, non-normative, or so-called questionable modes of discourse or being-with-others to redeem or valorize simply because they are viewed by the dominant regimes as non-academic and non-normative-pace Michel Foucault and Donald Preziosi, the discipline of art history disciplines its subjects and objects, which would include what ways of doing art history are appropriate or inappropriate. So, to redeem or valorize gossip and rumor as a new and valid methodology would play right back into the very realms that Butt is set out to trouble, critique, and undermine: normativity, hetero-centricity, and "proper" art-historical methodologies-all being interconnected. It is this way of doing and working with gossip and rumor in and around art history that I understand Butt's methodology as not only "queer" (in all the senses of the word) but also "reparative" -which is to say that doing and working gossip draws sustenance form this very mode of discourse that the normative and hetero-centric discipline of art history dismisses, marginalizes, and elides and erases. By way of a reparative reading and doing, Butt breaths life back into the artists and artworks that so many queers have loved for so long.Read more ›
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Carter on January 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
I wish this book was longer. Love the topic and the way it is written.
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Between You and Me: Queer Disclosures in the New York Art World, 1948–1963
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