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7 LGBTQ+ Artists We Love
Get inspired 14 Jun 2022

7 LGBTQ+ Artists We Love

LGBTQ+ art
Martine Gutierrez, Queer Rage, Imagine Life-Size and I’m Tyra, from the series Indigenous Woman, 2018

In June 1969, a raid occurred in the Stonewall bar, a gathering place for the New York gay community. This event led to several riots and marked the beginning of the LGBTQ+ movements. Since then, every June is an opportunity to celebrate LGBTQ+ art and to defend the rights of all human beings. Artsper invites you to discover 7 LGBTQ+ artists who are as brilliant as they are change-making!

1. Claude Cahun, a pioneer of LGBTQ+ art

claude cahun
Claude Cahun, I am in training, don’t kiss me (self-portrait), 1927, Jersey Heritage Collection, Jersey, UK

Born Lucy Renee Mathilde Schowob in 1894, Claude Cahun, was an emblematic figure of the surrealist movement in Paris. She was one of the very first to have questioned gender roles through art. Photographer, sculptor and writer, Cahun advocated very early on what is called today gender neutrality. As early as the 1920s, she defended the fluidity of the gender by using self-portraiture, surrealism and the cabaret universe. As explained, she feels feminine or masculine depending on the situation. In stating that, “neutral is the only gender that always works for me,” she formalized her position as a pioneer in LGBTQ+ art.

2. Joan E. Biren, an unprecedented representation of the lesbian community

LGBTQ+ art
Joan E. Biren, Eye to eye, Portraits of lesbians, 1979

The New York of the 1970s marks the birth of many LGBTQ+ movements. While homosexuality was still severely punished by American police, the first pride marches were organized. Lesbian activist, Joan E. Biren – aka JEB – took part in the demonstrations. At the same time, she revolted against the image of “false lesbians”, created by men and for men. In order to break this representation, Joan E. Biren focused her camera. She created hundreds of portraits of lesbian women, as intimate as they are authentic. Through her documentary approach, JEB for the first time made the lesbian community visible and proud.

3. Keith Haring, a struggle through color and love

keith haring safe sex
Keith Haring, Safe Sex, 1988

Inimitable, rebellious and revolutionary, Keith Haring also holds a central place in LGBTQ+ art. If his drawings seem at first glance colorful and naive, Haring is above all a committed artist. During his career, he defended ecology and fought against racism. But his main spearhead remains the fight against homophobia. Using street art, Keith Haring has massively spread a message of peace and universal love. Many of his works advocate the use of condoms and fight against AIDS. His 34-meter mural in Barcelona is a good example. But his commitment goes even further: in 1989, he created a foundation to fight against HIV. A double dose that has contributed to LGBTQ+ art and played an important role in public health.

4. Amos Mac, the contemporary star of LGBTQ+ art

LGBTQ+ art
Amos Mac & Zackary Drucker, Collaboration, 2010

If we had to elect the greatest contemporary LGBTQ+ art photographer, it would certainly be Amos Mac! And for good reason: he devotes his career to transforming the representations of the LGBTQ+ community, and particularly of transgender people. To carry out this magnificent struggle, Amos Mac explores both reportage and fashion photography. He collaborates with prestigious brands, writes scripts and covers the backstage of the biggest trans events in America. A triple approach whose benevolent and committed character is admired.

5. Martine Gutierrez, beauty, authenticity and LGBTQ+ art

Martine Gutierrez
Martine Gutierrez, Demons, Xochipilli, The Flower Prince, from the series Indigenous women, 2018

Strongly inspired by the aesthetics of fashion, Martine Gutierrez deals with LGBTQ+ beauty from all angles. A transgender artist, Gutierrez explores photography, dance, video and costume design. Thanks to this remarkable versatility, she plunges us into a universe devoid of the male gaze and colonial influences. A fresh breath of air in contemporary art!

6. Julia Gunther, a tribute to rainbow women

LGBTQ+ art
Julia Gunther, Miss Lesbian 2012, from the series Rainbow girls, 2012

Activist photographer, Julia Gunther uses the lens to denounce violence against LGBTQ+ women. Furthermore, she defends the pride of these women: to assume their identity, their choices and their incredible strength. Her portrait series Rainbow Girls is particularly poignant. In this series she photographed members of the Miss Lesbian Beauty contest in Cape Town, South Africa.  In a neighborhood known for its violence against lesbians, these beautiful women could make a bold statement of defiance.

7. Jeremy Novy, the birth of queer street art

Jeremy Novy, Divine, New Orleans, LA, 2019

Thanks to his works of mixing queer and popular iconography, Jeremy Novy is one of the first to have explored queer street art. He thus proposes new representations and leads all passers-by to question gender norms, still so rigid in popular and traditional cultures.

LGBTQ+ art: A lesson in tolerance and universal love

Plural and benevolent, LGBTQ+ art is above all an invitation to tolerance and openness to otherness. In societies that are still grey, LGBTQ+ artists propose new colored shades every day. A rainbow that becomes more and representative, and that deserves to shine even brighter!