Art of homosexual or lesbian imagery that is based around the issues that evolved out of the gender and identity politics of the 1980s

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  • Nan Goldin, 'Misty and Jimmy Paulette in a taxi, NYC' 1991
    Nan Goldin
    Misty and Jimmy Paulette in a taxi, NYC 1991
    Photograph on paper
    © Nan Goldin, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
  • Peter Blake, 'Portrait of David Hockney in a Hollywood Spanish Interior' 1965
    Peter Blake
    Portrait of David Hockney in a Hollywood Spanish Interior 1965
    Acrylic on canvas
    support: 1828 x 1528 x 21 mm
    frame: 1970 x 1674 x 31 mm
    Presented by David Hockney 2002© Peter Blake 2002. All rights reserved, DACS
  • Gilbert & George, 'Family Tree' 1991
    Gilbert & George
    Family Tree 1991
    Photo-piece, 18 parts
    displayed: 2538 x 3540 x 25 mm
    ARTIST ROOMS
    Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008© Gilbert & George
  • Robert Mapplethorpe, 'Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter' 1979
    Robert Mapplethorpe
    Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter 1979
    Black and white silver gelatin print on paper
    support: 341 x 341 mm
    ARTIST ROOMS
    Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008All Mapplethorpe works © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.

Although there have been many representations of homosexuality and lesbianism in the history of art, it was in the 1980s, in the wake of the feminist movement and the AIDS crisis that the queer aesthetic was born. Artists began to document a cultural landscape that was rapidly disappearing, as well as the backlash that had taken place against sexual freedom.

Much of the art resonates with themes of life and death, in particular the photographs of Nan Goldin and Wolfgang Tillmans and the installations of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. There is also a critical exploration of representation, as in the photographs of lesbians by Catherine Opie and in the studies of the gay S&M scene in New York by Robert Mapplethorpe.