In this group, artists express the longing of unrequited love: the objects of their intense desires remain alluring yet perpetually distant. Whether the other is a star like Madonna, a fashion model, or an image of erotic perfection, such attraction must bridge a social chasm that would be difficult for anyone to cross but which is made especially impassable for homosexuals because of proscriptions against same-sex desire.
Here, desire for the other is often imagined in terms of a totem or fetish. Totemic works, such as Millie Wilson's Daytona Death Angel or Marsden Hartley's Cascade of Devotion: Mexico, present a singular and monumental object or image which, in its isolated glory suggests something perfect and unattainable. Fetish-like works, such as Karen Kilimnick's Madonna Before She Got Famous—Madonna at Home or Richard Hawkin's Goethe's Italian Journey, capture the other with just ephemeral suggestions of their presence.
Cascade of Devotion - Mexico, 1932
Oil on panel
13 x 15 in.
Gift of Bertha Schaefer
The Hartley Elegy: Berlin Series KvF V, 1990
76-1/4 x 53-3/8 in.
Courtesy Park Granada Editions
Narratives (Plate G), 1993
Etching with chine colle
28 x 21 in.
Courtesy Max Protetch Gallery
When Dickinson Shut Her Eyes - No. 1027, 1993
Plastic and aluminum
2 x 2 x variable lengths up to 72 in.
Courtesy of the artist and the Matthew Marks Gallery
Frontal View, Geoffrey Beene Fashion Show, 1990
Black-and-white photograph, A/P
40 x 30 in.
Gift of Elaine McKeon