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Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture Hardcover – November 2, 2010

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Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture + Art and Queer Culture + Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Books; 1ST edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1588342999
  • ISBN-13: 978-1588342997
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 12.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


As authors Katz (State University of New York, Buffalo) and Ward (National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution) demonstrate in this exhibition catalogue, portraiture has long been a genre that flies somewhat under the radar, but this seemingly unenviable attribute is partly what gives it its unique power. Drawing upon a range of recent scholarship, this beautifully illustrated catalogue examines a wide variety of American portraits from the late-19th century to the present, bringing to light the extent to which the expression of same-sex desire in such works has often existed just beneath the surface of appearances, sometimes boldly stated but usually carefully coded within a tangle of cultural camouflage. In addition to excellent essays, the catalogue examines each work succinctly with caption paragraphs that provide specific information pertaining to both artist and subject matter. The writing is clear and accessible throughout, but also richly nuanced in a way that pays tribute to the subtleties of expression that exist within the artworks themselves. An invaluable resource for both students and advanced researchers focusing on issues related to sexuality and representation, this work is also well suited to general audiences. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers. -- M. R. Freeman, Western Oregon University

Library Journal
This volume, accompanying the National Portrait Gallery's fall 2010 exhibit, is the first of its scope (1891–2003) on gay and lesbian portraiture in the context of American art and culture. Through the work of such artists as Georgia O'Keeffe, Keith Haring, Andrew Wyeth, Andy Warhol, Catherine Opie, and Robert Mapplethorpe, the portrait exhibit showcases a range of mediums, from photography and painting to installation and performance. By exploring such questions as gender, sexual identity, and the AIDS epidemic, Katz (director, visual studies, SUNY at Buffalo) and Ward (historian, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Inst.) investigate the role of the American artist in representing the LGBT community to the greater art world. A thoughtful explanation places each portrait within historical and conceptual context. VERDICT Recommended for all students in undergraduate and graduate art programs and for all programs in LGBT studies.—Shauna Frischkorn, Millersville Univ., PA

ForeWord Reviews
Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, a survey of portrait art by and about lesbian and gay artists, ably addresses questions of disclosure and revelation in the work of twentieth-century artists. The book was published to accompany the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery exhibit of the same name (October 2010 to February 2011); besides the visual delight of seeing works by some of this country’s most acclaimed artists, the exhibit and book unveil and decode the contributions of lesbian and gay artists to American modernism, offering a new way of thinking about American portraiture of the past hundred years. One of the ways in which a society invalidates the experience, and even the lives, of its marginalized members is by obscuring or destroying the history and stories of those lives. Jonathan D. Katz and David C. Ward show how American society has attempted to do so with the history and stories of the lesbian and gay community, creating a situation in which its members are seen as “other,” and demonized for their difference. Especially moving is the Annie Leibovitz photographic portrait of Ellen DeGeneres, a study at once conflicted and beautiful in its “carnival of visual signs.” Coming out, said DeGeneres, was a freeing experience, “because people can’t hurt me anymore.”
Authors Katz and Ward bring these stories to light and return them to the history of American art and culture, thus enriching it by calling it to recognize, if not yet wholly embrace, all of its members. They say of Walt Whitman in his time that, “It was Whitman’s essence as a gay man that allowed him to ask American democracy to fulfill its promise.” This important and compelling work demands the same of our country today. It goes a long way toward restoring the history, narrative, and legacy of artists who, in spite of being marginalized, have made lasting contributions to American art and culture.
Katz founded and directed the Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies at Yale University and is director of the Visual Studies doctoral program at SUNY–Buffalo. Ward is a historian at the National Portrait Gallery, and the author of Charles Willson Peale: Art and Selfhood in the Early Republic. He is also a poet and critic.
Kristine Morris

About the Author

Jonathan D. Katz is director of the visual studies doctoral program, State University of New York–Buffalo. Katz founded and directed the Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies at Yale University and was the founding chair of the Department of Lesbian and Gay Studies at City College of San Francisco, the first department of lesbian and gay studies in the United States. The first tenured professor in gay and lesbian studies in the nation, he has written extensively on postwar American art, culture, and sexuality for a wide range of publications in the United States and Europe. Katz lives in Philadelphia, PA.

David C. Ward is a historian at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. He is the author of Charles Wilson Peale: Art and Selfhood in the Early Republic and has published articles on a variety of topics in history and culture and on such figures as Hart Crane, Marsden Hartley, Ernest Hemingway, and Gerhard Richter. Ward is also a poet and critic who has been widely published in Anglo-American literary magazines.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When the Smithsonian Institution had the courage this year to place in the National Portrait Gallery this exhibition HIDE/SEEK: DIFFERENCE AND DESIRE IN AMERICAN PORTRAITURE the art world applauded. The exhibition aimed to describe how gender and identity could be traced far back in the country's history of creating American portraiture and in doing so break some barriers of controversy that have dissipated with the passage of time. The exhibition was conceived and well-mounted by Jonathan D. Katz and David C. Ward with the idea of combining a timeline of art history within the framework of the same-sex desire from the 'Victorian' era of the turn of the century through the changes accompanying the feminist movement, Stonewall and subsequent gay liberation through the AIDS plague (and the country's response) to the present. Given the fact that Congress has now finally repealed the 'don't ask, don't tell' military restriction it would seem this exhibition is thoughtfully timely. Sadly the spectre of censorship - removing David Wojnarowicz's video "A Fire in My Belly" that momentarily shoed ants crawling over the belly of an inexpensive Mexican crucifix - has diminished the statement of courage made by one of our most important national museums, numbing the impact of the importance of this extraordinary collection of American portrait art.

Thanks to the publication of this rather impressive catalogue for the exhibition, the ideas within the exhibition are now preserved for history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GRF on March 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The companion book for the exhibit is well written and provides an insight to a time when sexuality was viewed in a different context than the present. The organization of material and discourse is excellent and is a welcome addition to my library.
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By Mr. Tuan Q. Nguyen on August 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An amazing body of work of gay artist from the begging to now, and how it has progress. It's a fine example for young people to see how far the gay community has come too.
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