Preview the Brooklyn Museum’s Controversial ‘HIDE/SEEK’ Show

HIDE/SEEK, the stand-out exhibit that provoked controversy when it opened at the National Portrait Gallery in October 2010, has found a new home at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The show, the first major museum exhibition to focus on themes of gender and sexuality in modern American portraiture, presents over 100 works by 67 artists, with almost all of the works from the original exhibit on display.

HIDE/SEEK opens with Thomas Eakins’ 1892 photograph of a geriatric Walt Whitman (whose relationship with Peter Doyle is well known) and closes with several versions of David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly, the film that ignited the controversy with the Smithsonian Institute due to its depiction of a crucifix covered in ants. Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Nan Goldin, Glenn Ligon, Georgia O’Keefe, and Marsden Hartley are some of the artists in this high-caliber exhibition that asserts the significance of the work of gay artists to contemporary art, and presents a new paradigm for understanding the complex and tense relationship between sexuality and portraiture. Click through for a slide show of some of our favorite work on display.

Grant Wood. Arnold Comes of Age, 1930. Photo credit: Rozalia Jovanovic

American painter Grant Wood was best known for his depictions of the rural American Midwest such as his iconic work American Gothic. More recently, however, scholars have reassessed Wood’s art and life in view of his sexual orientation. His image as a homespun regionalist was perhaps an effort to position himself as a rugged alternative to the decadent urban artist to avert questions about his homosexuality.