This has been firmly on my ‘to visit’ list for months, and finally having a Friday afternoon with nothing to do, I had the perfect opportunity.
The Tate bills this show as the ‘the first major exhibition dedicated to queer British art’ and spans sexually transgressive ideas, creators and creativity in Britain and by Britons from 1861 to 1967 – when the Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised male homosexuality and marked somewhat of a sea change.
10 rooms of an evolving LGBT+ voice, waaaaaay before those letters had any importance on the cultural lexicon, takes in some of Britain’s greatest artists and our most celebrated thinks.
Aubrey Beardsley’s impact on the blossoming world of British Art Nouveaux was huge, as it continues to be the very safe world of the British newspaper comic strip. Hockney crops up again, as well he might, and Bacon’s contribution to the challenge of the accepted norm is also grateful acknowledged.
One of the most striking exhibits is Oscar Wilde’s gaol door from his time incarcerated in Reading prison which is hung on the wall alongside the art. It’s a poignant reminder of how far we’ve come – but Gluck’s piercing stare from the front of the exhibition brochure perhaps serves to remind us of how far there is still to go.
The exhibition runs until the 1st of October – so there’s still chance to catch it – do.