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This has already been a banner year for LGBTQ-themed art exhibitions around the world, and still more are heading to top museums across the U.S. and Europe this fall. From gay comics in the Bronx to forgotten queer Chicano artists in Los Angeles to Hockney in Spain, here are our picks for the shows not to miss.
Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (Through Oct. 22)
Bronx-born Puerto Rican graphic artist Ivan Velez, creator of the pioneering late ‘80s graphic novel series "Tales of the Closet," is celebrated in this exhibition that traces his three-decade career, including his LGBTQ youth activism during the HIV/AIDS crisis and his key strides in bringing gay and multicultural representation to mainstream comics through his work with DC, Marvel and Milestone Media.
Museum of the City of New York (Through Oct. 22)
This unique and moving show looks at the ways New York City artists and activists have, out of necessity, incorporated caretaking into their own domestic lives since the advent of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the early 1980s. The exhibition includes paintings, photography and film from well-known artists like David Wojnarowicz and Nan Goldin, plus numerous emerging artists like Kia LaBeija, as well as archival objects from NYC activist groups, like ACT UP, and support groups.
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (Through Nov. 5)
The largest UK exhibition to ever explore LGBTQ history via contemporary art, this Liverpool show is part of the year-long and Britain-wide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of homosexuality’s partial decriminalization in England and Wales. David Hockney, Steve McQueen, Anya Gallacio, Derek Jarman and hometown favorite Linder are just a few of the artists who are part of this exploration of sexuality and gender identity since 1967. The show moves on to the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in December.
MOCA Pacific Design Center & ONE Gallery, West Hollywood (Sept. 9 – Dec. 31)
Showcasing more than 50 Chicano LGBTQ artists from the 1960s to the early 1990s, this multimedia exhibition is the first of its kind to highlight queer Chicano works within broader artistic and cultural contexts like the Chicano Moratorium, gay liberation, feminism and the HIV/AIDS crisis. A number of less-visible and/or forgotten LGBTQ Chicano artists from the period, including many who were lost to AIDS, will be highlighted — including Edmundo “Mundo” Meza, who serves as a connective focal point for the exhibition. Works will be shown across two West Hollywood venues, MOCA Pacific Design Center and ONE Gallery.
Leopold Museum, Vienna (Sept. 22 – Jan. 8)
Expressionist painter Anton Kolig, one of Austria’s most important artists of the first half of the 20th century, gets his first comprehensive solo show in more than 50 years. Often using male nudes as his subjects, Kolig painted with vibrantly luminous colors and infused his works with homoerotic energy. This new show will include about 100 pieces, 20 of which belong permanently to the Leopold Museum, making it the largest Kolig collection in the world.
Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York (Oct. 7 – Jan. 28)
Legendary filmmaker Barbara Hammer presents this collection of film and video pieces, some well known but many previously unseen, that address themes that have been critical to her work throughout her nearly five-decade career, such as lesbian representation, subjectivity, sexuality, intimacy and sensation.
Museum of Modern Art, New York (Oct. 31 – April 1)
Highly influential downtown-arts-scene hangout Club 57 is celebrated in this first show of its kind, examining the legacy of the no-budget, heavily-LGBTQ East Village venue (held in the basement of a Polish Church on St. Mark’s Place) and how it brought together New York’s most exciting young artists, musicians, fashion designers, performance artists and film and video makers of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Many of these creative minds would become the most iconic figures of their generation, like Madonna, RuPaul, Cyndi Lauper, Keith Haring, Charles Busch and Klaus Nomi. The multimedia exhibition — guest curated by actress Ann Magnuson, who was Club 57’s performance curator — will include many works that haven’t been shown publicly since the 1980s.
Guggenheim, Bilbao (Nov. 10 – Feb. 28)
David Hockney turned 80 in July, and in celebration, several excellent Hockney exhibitions have been staged around the world this year. This show at Spain’s Guggenheim Bilbao, first mounted at London’s Royal Academy of Arts last year, presents a series of vivid portraits Hockney created in Los Angeles from 2013 to 2016, in which his subjects were his own friends, family and art-world colleagues, each sitting in the same chair in his studio.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Nov. 27 - Feb. 25)
Opening a few weeks after the Guggenheim Bilbao show will be this career-spanning retrospective simply entitled David Hockney, currently at Centre Pompidou in Paris following its record-breaking premiere at London’s Tate Britain earlier this year. The Met run will be this huge show’s only North American appearance.