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Lecture: Jonathan D. Katz: The Sexuality of the Hard-Edge: Abstraction, Phenomenology, and Post War American Art

When Nov 14, 2019
from 09:15 to 10:15
Where Phil I, GCSC, R.001
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 641 / 99-30 027
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This lecture is part of the conference Renegotiating Minoritarian In_Visibilities. For questions or registration please send a mail to .


Chair: Cathérine Ludwig-Ockenfels


To study the work of hard-edge abstraction in artists such as Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Indiana, and Leon Polk Smith, is to watch the cold logic of geometry—of angles, lines and points—dissolve into the warmth of pendant corporeality. The key terms of this art are in fact the exact obverse of its initial appearance, for in place of pure form and lucid reason, the messiness of embodiment and sexuality come to the fore. Katz argues that what we used to think of in terms of abstraction and formal relationships is more properly understood in terms of bodies and same-sex desire. That every one of these painters was queer in the 50s and early 60s helps specify the socio-political charge of their aesthetics of camouflage. In this art, form becomes flesh, and in his talk, Katz explores how and why.


// Jonathan D. Katz, currently a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is a pioneering figure at the intersection of art history and queer studies. Katz was the first full-time American academic to be tenured in the field, chaired the first department of Gay and Lesbian Studies in the US, and at Yale University, founded the first queer studies program in the Ivy League. He co-curated Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, the first queer art exhibition ever mounted at a major US museum, which opened at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, and then traveled, winning numerous awards. His next major exhibition, entitled Art AIDS America, traveled to five museums across the US, also accompanied by a substantial new book. Katz is now completing two new books, and curating several new exhibitions in the US and Europe. An active, activist curator, he curated About Face: Stonewall, Revolt and New Queer Art, the largest queer exhibition ever mounted with 500 works, in Chicago this summer.

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