Explore Artworks Included in Artnet Auctions’ Third Annual Pride Sale Through the Words of LGBTQIA+ Writers

On the occasion of the sale, we paired works from the auction with writings by Queer authors.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Wrestler, 1989. Live now in Embrace: Celebrating Pride on Artnet Auctions.

On the occasion of Artnet Auctions’ third annual Pride sale, benefitting GLSEN for LGBTQIA+ youth, Junior Specialist Solomon Bass paired a selection of arrestingly warm works from the auction with writings by Queer authors who evoked parallel and monumental emotions

Read on, and explore Embrace: Celebrating Pride before it ends on June 23.

Diane Arbus, Carlin Jeffrey, The Silent Soldier N.Y.C., 1970. Live now in Embrace: Celebrating Pride on Artnet Auctions.

“Yet we turn
to examine each other in the dream. Was it sap
Coursing in the tree
That made the buds stand out, each with a peculiar coherency?”
–John Ashbery, The Double Dream of Spring (for Gerrit Henry), 1970

Diane Arbus photographed performance artist Carlin Jeffrey embracing the cross as a way to remember gay soldiers lost in American wars. His inverted crucifixion romantically reclaims the act of turning. The garland wreath below Jeffrey and the metallic chains dripping from the wood recall the dark emotions of dreamlike spring as a love setting, which Ashbery spoke about through the sign of a sappy tree.

Peter Hujar, David Wojnarowicz, 1983. Live now in Embrace: Celebrating Pride on Artnet Auctions.

“I want to sleep hugging
someone over and over
and cuddling
in the morning,
cause it’s
my body
in my heart”
–John Giorno, Exiled in Domestic Life, 1983

Peter Hujar captures David Wojnarowicz embracing the blankets of domestic protection. Echoes of their once-intimate relationship billow and build sensitively through crests and troughs in the fabric that Wojnarowicz hugs and looks into endlessly. Whether taken in the morning or elsewhere in that metropolitan day, the image shows David healing with Peter, as though they were together in a John Giorno love poem.

Herb Ritts, Stephano Seated, 1985. Live now in Embrace: Celebrating Pride on Artnet Auctions.

“I forgot these marvels, my heart breathed open, I saw life’s glory look back at me naked.”
–Allen Ginsburg, After Antipater, March 26, 1985

Herb Ritts captured Stephano embracing the starkly illuminated curvature of his own shoulders. Like Eros personified, bearing souls open with his wings and arrows, Stephano and his solitude exemplify the self-proclaimed fearlessness of Ritts in his intimate, dramatically lit portraits. If love made Allen Ginsburg surrender completely, Ritts’s photography makes breath lighter, too.

Keith Haring, Art Attack on AIDS, 1988. Live now in Embrace: Celebrating Pride on Artnet Auctions.

“Prior: Lou.
Louis: Dance with me.
Prior: I can’t, my leg, it hurts at night.
Are you…a ghost, Lou?
Louis: No. Just spectral. Lost to my self. Sitting all day on cold park benches. Wishing I could be with you. Dance with me, babe…”
–Tony Kushner, Angels in America, Millennium Approaches, Act Three, Scene 6, 1992
(begun in the fall of 1988)

The infinite fight against AIDS becomes a site for interlocked arms to embrace. Through his edition embracing a dance of social motion, Keith Haring helped raise funds for Wellness Networks, Inc., Michigan’s non-profit leader in the early epidemic. Tony Kushner began his fantasia Angels in America during the fall of 1988, the year after Haring was diagnosed. Prior dreams of him and Louis dancing, soon after the illness fell upon New York.

Louis Fratino, Untitled, 2018. Live now in Embrace: Celebrating Pride on Artnet Auctions.

“Here’s the man
whose arms are wide enough to gather
your leaving. & here the moment,
just after the lights go out, when you can still see
the faint torch between his legs.
How you use it again & again
to find your own hands.”
–Ocean Vuong, Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong, 2015

If embracing is to have your landscape of desire fulfilled and flattened into tranquility, Louis Fratino’s figures emanate with the “loving calm” of possibility. Resting softly on the back of another “loved being” held gently, arms wrapped around the waist, signifies a mutual formation of nighttime, a moment when Ocean Vuong states we can ultimately enmesh, and use love to find our hearts and hands. 

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