Gay Gotham: Networking’s Masterpiece

THE DAILY PIC: The Museum of the City of New York gets at the social connections that made queer art great.

THE DAILY PIC (#1674): The objects and artifacts in “Gay Gotham,” at the Museum of the City of New York, are gorgeous and fascinating. They bring home just how much important culture homosexual New Yorkers produced in the 20th century. But rather than looking at the walls and cases in the show, it’s worth staring down at the floor. There, a series of black lines run from one work to another, tracing a very few of the social connections between their makers. If you traced every one of those connections, you’d need a spider’s web of lines completely blocking the gallery space.

The social network built by gay New Yorkers – the so-called “homintern” itself – was as great a creation as any of their individual works. And we’d certainly never have got the works without the network. Especially in the 1940s and ’50s, one of the most homophobic and oppressive moments in American history, queers in New York managed to come together to craft some of America’s greatest objects and performances.

Today’s Daily Pic is a photo of Alvin Ailey, the dancer and choreographer, shot in 1955 by Carl van Vechten, the Harlem photographer. Lines drawn from just those two figures would touch down on most of the others in “Gay Gotham.” (Museum of the City of New York, Gift of Carl Van Vechten, 42.316.231. Used with permission of The Van Vechten Trust)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.


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