Queer: New Exhibition’s Untold Stories From The NGV Collection

Queer is a landmark, Australian-first exhibition exploring the National Gallery Of Victoria’s (NGV) collection through a queer lens.

Peter Behren’s The kiss (1898)

The exhibition aims to celebrate the rich, diverse and sometimes untold stories. It will span five gallery spaces and feature more than 300 artworks across historical eras and cultures. Queer will be the most historically expansive thematic presentation of artworks relating to queer stories ever mounted in an Australian art institution.

Queer will illuminate the ways in which queer lives and stories have been expressed in art throughout history. Potentially invisible narratives hidden due to suppression, prejudice or discrimination will be explored and a variety of historical and contemporary subject matter addressed. 

Highlight works in the exhibition include Leigh Bowery’s looks including The Metropolitan; Ponch Hawkes’ 1973 photograph No title (Two women embracing ‘Glad to be gay’); Video work ‘Atlantic Is A Sea Of Bones’ by transgender woman, artist and activist Tourmaline; Agnes Goodsir’s portrait The letter (1926) which features the artist’s muse, lover and partner of almost 30 years; Destiny Deacon’s Where’s Mickey?; and Peter Behren’s The kiss (1898), an androgynous kissing couple in the centre of an Art Nouveau composition.

TheLetter QueerExhibition
The letter (1926) by Agnes Goodsir

The artworks throughout Queer reflect the multifaceted meaning and usage of the word ‘queer’. An expression of sexuality/gender. . . A philosophy. . . A movement. . . A sensibility. . . An attitude. Many of the artworks in the exhibition are by artists who identify as queer, while others lived in a time when such identification was not possible.

“Never has a queer thematic exhibition of this scale and nuance been staged in an Australian art institution,” NGV Director Tony Ellwood AM says. “Queer shines a light on the NGV Collection to examine and reveal the queer stories that the artworks have to tell.”

“Drawing on a broad selection of beloved and lesser-known artworks, this exhibition will present audiences with the opportunity to interpret queer concepts and stories in surprising and thought-provoking ways.”

Queer runs at NGV International from 10 December 2021-June 2022.

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