A&E: Historic Exhibit Surveys Art After Stonewall

Keith Haring’s “Safe Sex” (1985) is one of 200 works included in a landmark exhibition opening this weekend at the Frost Art Museum FIU. Credit: Columbus Museum of Art.

“Art after Stonewall: 1969 – 1989,” an unprecedented exhibition of more than 200 works by LGBT artists, opened this month at Florida International University’s Frost Art Museum in Miami and will remain on display through January.

The Stonewall Riots are considered a historic flashpoint for the LGBT movement, and the first two decades of art-making that immediately followed the uprising have never been explored before in this way. This exhibition was first presented in New York at the Leslie-Lohman Museum and New York University's Grey Art Gallery and will travel to the Columbus Museum of Art early next year.

According to the show’s curator, Jonathan Weinberg, “Art after Stonewall” is the first national museum show to survey the impact of the LGBT civil rights movement during the pivotal two decades after the riots, as the first Pride parades and festivals were organized.

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The diverse works are arranged in several themes, including “Coming Out,” “Sexual Outlaws,” “The Uses of the Erotic,” “Gender and Body,” “Things are Queer,” “AIDS and Activism” and “We’re Here.” 

"’Art after Stonewall’ is all about using art for empowerment and community, making visible queer identities in a myriad of fabulous forms," said Weinberg.

"When the police raided the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, that night’s events changed the course of American history. ‘Art after Stonewall’ brings to light the evolution of the modern LGBT movement and its undeniable impact on the art world," said Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, director of the Frost Art Museum FIU.

The exhibition includes works by well-known artists, including Andy Warhol, Diane Arbus, Martin Wong, David Hockney, Marlon Riggs, Greer Lankton and Robert Mapplethorpe. Many others are still relatively unknown or only now coming to light.

"The exhibition acknowledges the guts and grit of these artists, gay and straight, to make declarative and public visual statements about gender and sexuality in a predominantly homophobic world,” Pomeroy explained. 

Two of the artists had Miami connections: Martin Kreloff designed the poster for the first White Party AIDS fundraiser in Miami, an inspiration for communities nationwide to raise much-needed funds for people suffering from the epidemic. Felix Gonzalez-Torres also confronted the AIDS crisis, with a haunting billboard that was displayed for six months in 1989 above the site of the Stonewall Riots. 

“Art after Stonewall: 1969-1989” will be on display Sept. 14 – Jan. 5 at the Frost Museum of Art on the campus of Florida International University, 10975 S.W. 17th St. in Miami. Curator Jonathan Weinberg will give a lecture on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 4 p.m., followed by a reception. The museum is open for regular viewing Tuesday – Sunday and admission is free. For more information, go to Frost.FIU.edu.