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16 LGBTQ art shows that keep the summer Pride vibe flowing

From a career-spanning survey of Chicago artist Nick Cave to an exhibit about gay communists in 1990s Berlin, here are our summer art show picks.
Artist Nick Cave and his Soundsuits at his exhibition, Forothermore, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, on May 13, 2022.
Artist Nick Cave and his Soundsuits at his exhibition, "Forothermore," at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago on May 13. Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images file

A wide assortment of exhibitions by and about LGBTQ artists is keeping the queer creativity flowing at some of the world’s top museums this summer. From coast to coast in the United States and well beyond, here are our picks for the summer ‘22 exhibitions to hit — including one museum offering the rare chance to take in three queer-themed shows in one visit (hint: head to Baltimore). 

'Lorenza Böttner: Requiem for the Norm'

Leslie-Lohman Museum; New York

Image: Installation view of Lorenza Böttner: Requiem for the Norm–
Installation view of Lorenza Böttner: Requiem for the Norm– Photograph by Kristine Eudey / Courtesy of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art

This first American presentation of the work of Lorenza Böttner explores how the 20th century Chilean German artist, who lost both arms as a child, used a variety of media to celebrate the complexities of her gender expression and embodiment.

Through Aug. 14

Keioui Keijaun Thomas: 'Come Hell or High Femmes'

Wexner Center for the Arts; Columbus, Ohio

Image: A film still from Come Hell or High Femmes: Act 2. The Last Trans Femmes on Earth: Dripping Doll Energy, 2021.
A film still from Come Hell or High Femmes: Act 2. The Last Trans Femmes on Earth: Dripping Doll Energy, 2021.Hannah Patterson / Image courtesy of the artist

In a three-part film and multimedia installation, Brooklyn, New York-based artist Keioui Keijaun Thomas imagines a post-apocalyptic world where only “dolls” — here, loosely meaning Black trans women so flawless that they’re no longer considered real — have survived a mass extinction event.

Through Aug. 14

Laurence Philomène: 'Puberty'

Fotografiska; New York

Image: Nina’s Vanity, 2019 by Laurence Philomène
Nina’s Vanity, 2019 by Laurence Philomène.Courtesy of the artist and Fotografiska New York

Since early 2019, nonbinary trans Montreal artist Laurence Philomène has been documenting through daily photographs, simultaneously staged and candid, the changes that testosterone therapy generates in their body and moods. The resulting images challenge viewers to consider identity beyond binaries.

Through Aug. 21

'Leon Polk Smith: 1945-1962'

Palm Springs Art Museum; Palm Springs, California

Image: Leon Polk Smith Installation: 1945-1962.
An installation view of Leon Polk Smith: 1945-1962. Guillaume Goureau / via Palm Springs Art Museum

Considered one of the founders of "hard-edge painting," Leon Polk Smith used a vocabulary of simple forms and brilliant colors to challenge some of the most fundamental painting conventions. This show focuses on Smith’s works from the 1950s, when his mature style began to flourish.

Through Aug. 28

'Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca: Swinguerra'

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

Image: Installation view of Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca: Swinguerra.
Installation view of Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca: Swinguerra.Mel Taing / via The Institute of Contemporary Art Boston

Brazilian German filmmaking duo Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca combine their journalism and visual art backgrounds to explore urban youth subcultures and marginalized communities. "Swinguerra," one of their most famous works, showcases the tradition-rich contemporary styles of three competing groups of queer dancers in northern Brazil.

Through Sept. 5; also showing at New York’s New Museum as part of "Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca: Five Times Brazil" through Oct. 16

Jeffrey Gibson: 'The Body Electric'

SITE Santa Fe; Santa Fe, New Mexico

Image: Multiple works installed in Jeffrey Gibson: The Body Electric at SITE Santa Fe.
Multiple works installed in Jeffrey Gibson: The Body Electric at SITE Santa Fe.Shayla Blatchford / via SITE Santa Fe

Merging artistic styles and era-crossing cultural references, Choctaw Cherokee artist Jeffrey Gibson creates vibrant works that express the complex relationships between injustice, marginalization and personal identity. This new solo exhibition is a multidecade survey of Gibson’s work alongside newly commissioned pieces.

Through Sept. 11

'Writing a Chrysanthemum: The Drawings of Rick Barton'

The Morgan Library & Museum; New York

Image: Writing a Chrysanthemum: The Drawings of Rick Barton.
Writing a Chrysanthemum: The Drawings of Rick Barton. via The Morgan Library & Museum; New York

Shrouded in mystery, artist Rick Barton captured his wildly diverse subjects in a web of pen-and-ink lines and was influential among a small group of fellow gay Beat movement artists in 1950s and ‘60s San Francisco. This exhibition of 60 drawings, two sketchbooks and five printed works marks the first time Barton’s art is on view to the public.

Through Sept. 11

'JJ Levine: Queer Photographs'

McCord Museum; Montreal

Alone Time, 2015, by JJ Levine: Queer Photographs.
Alone Time, 2015, by JJ Levine: Queer Photographs. JJ Levine / via McCord Museum; Montreal

The work of Montreal photographer JJ Levine is celebrated in this show that presents 52 large-format staged portraits of self-identifying queer subjects in intimate domestic settings, taken from three of the artist’s photo series that all question the representation of traditional binary gender roles.

Through Sept. 18

'Nick Cave: Forothermore'

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Image: Installation view of Nick Cave: Forothermore.
Installation view of Nick Cave: Forothermore. via Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

This first career-spanning survey of Chicago artist Nick Cave highlights his vibrant works that include sculptures, fashion, videos, performances and installations, encompassing all aspects of his decades of work as an activist, educator, designer and performer. Never-before-seen works include the latest from his popular "Soundsuits" series.

Through Oct. 2

'Shapeshifting: Transformations on Paper'

Image: Zackary Drucker
Relationship, #35 (Pygmalion).
Zackary Drucker Relationship, #35 (Pygmalion).Zackary Drucker / via The Baltimore Museum of Art

'Salman Toor: No Ordinary Love'

Image: Salman Toor with his paintings.
Salman Toor with his paintings. Bryan Derballa / via ArtPartner

'Elle Pérez: Devotions'

Baltimore Museum of Art

A photo from Elle Pérez's: Devotions.
A photo from Elle Pérez's: DevotionsElle Pérez / via Baltimore Museum of Art

In one of the queerest-ever gatherings of separate exhibitions at a mainstream institution, the Baltimore Museum of Art presents three creatively curated LGBTQ-themed shows across its sprawling complex.

First, the innovative, insightful and centuries-spanning look at gender and identity “Shapeshifting: Transformations on Paper” includes works by Zackary Drucker, Man Ray, Gerda Wegener and Pablo Picasso.

Through Oct. 2

The colorful, playful and boldly queer visions of Brooklyn, New York-based artist Salman Toor are meanwhile showcased in “No Ordinary Love,” with 45 works including several created specifically for this show.

Through Oct. 23

And the moving photographs of New York-based gender-nonconforming trans artist Elle Pérez are on provocative display in “Devotions.”

Through March 19

'Lee Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse'

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Image: An installation view of Lee Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse.
An installation view of Lee Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse. via Los Angeles County Museum of Art

This first West Coast exhibition of the work of fashion visionary Lee Alexander McQueen contextualizes the designer’s inspired work within the numerous contemporary artists who drew upon similar themes and visual references, and examines the interdisciplinary impulse that defined his too-short career.

Through Oct. 9

'Tuntenhaus Forellenhof 1990: Gay Communism’s Short Summer'

Schwules Museum; Berlin

Image: Installation view of Tuntenhaus Forellenhof 1990: Gay Communism’s Short Summer.
Installation view of Tuntenhaus Forellenhof 1990: Gay Communism’s Short Summer. Peter Runkewitz / via Schwules Museum

On the first May Day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, about 30 gay men occupied an apartment building in the city’s Friedrichshain neighborhood and created what became the Tuntenhaus Forellenhof, a utopian collective of communist queers. This fascinating exhibition reveals the everyday lives of the inhabitants of this short-lived experiment through voices, anecdotes, relics and a re-creation of their collective dining room.

Through Oct. 31

'Nick Vaughan and Jake Margolin: Wayfinding'

Blaffer Art Museum; Houston

Image: A charcoal “wind
drawing” by Nick Vaughan and Jake Margolin.
A charcoal “wind drawing” by Nick Vaughan and Jake Margolin.Courtesy of the artists and Devin Borden Gallery, Houston

The interdisciplinary work of artistic and life partners Nick Vaughan and Jake Margolin heralds the histories of habitually marginalized American LGBTQ communities, as highlighted by their ongoing “50 States” project, honoring little-known pre-Stonewall queer histories from each state. This Blaffer exhibition centers on a new body of drawings called “wind prints,” in which “50 States” imagery is lightly stenciled in charcoal powder and then blown away.

July 15-Oct. 9

'the story of you and me'

Union Hall; Denver

Image: Robert Martin's "Family Portrait"  in the Story of You and Me exhibit.
Robert Martin's "Family Portrait" in 'the story of you and me' exhibit. Robert Martin / Courtesy of Robert Martin

This earnest and sentimental group show presents four up-and-coming LGBTQ artists — Erickson Díaz-Cortés, Jordan Ramsey Ismaiel, Em Van Loan and Robert Martin — and their works that are about or inspired by their intimate relationships, both with others and with themselves.

July 21-Sept. 17

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