cover image Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History

Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History

Harmony Hammond. Rizzoli International Publications, $50 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-2248-5

Lesbians have an uneasy relationship with the art world establishment. When painter Jody Pinto wanted her work to appear in the 1978 ""Lesbian Show,"" her art dealer informed her that ""if she exhibited as a lesbian, she could say good-bye to the gallery's representation of her work."" More than another decade passed before artists openly celebrated their sexual identities in a Houston show entitled ""Out! Voices from a Queer Nation."" Hammond, an art teacher and cofounder of Heresies Magazine as well as an artist, documents three decades of post-Stonewall efforts to find acceptance and recognition for painting, sculpture, mixed media and photography by lesbian women. The author contends that ""lesbian art is not a stylistic movement but rather, in its simplest definition, art that comes out of a feminist consciousness""; she then shapes her inquiry to those who fit her definition. Hammond combines a historical overview of art shows, conferences and publications with written portraits of, and interviews with, representative artists from diverse backgrounds. Internationally recognized artists like Kate Millett, Louise Fishman and Catherine Opie rub elbows with those known primarily within political circles. While the writing offers little in the way of formal analysis, the collection itself is a handsome tribute to lesbian creativity. Illus. (Aug.)