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“I PAINT PICTURES which don’t exist and which I would like to see” (“Je peins des tableaux qui n’existent pas et que je voudrais voir”). That is how Léonor…More

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Detested by most of his contemporaries and undervalued by his immediate posterity, [Jean] Lorrain’s amalgam of lowlife culture and preciosity, of exhibitionist journalism and artistic aspirations, has come to be seen as forerunners of Jean Cocteau and Jean Genet. His musky writing may be an acquired taste, but, then, so is caviar.

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The Grand Affair is not reductive; it’s a full-scale, fascinating story of an exceptional artist, informed by the new freedom to discuss homosexuality in a way that was not possible before. And it makes a persuasive case that Sargent, whether or not he acted on his feelings, was drawn to other men.

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Gustave Courtois was born in 1852 in the tiny town of Pusey in eastern France, about 35 miles north of Besançon. He was raised by his single mother, Jeanne Jobard, a laundress who hardly made enough money to pay the bills. Thanks to his remarkable artistic talent, he received a scholarship in the spring of 1869 to join the atelier of Jean-Léon Gérôme, a renowned Orientalist painter and professor at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

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The Benedick opened its doors in the autumn of 1879. It offered 33 apartments for unmarried men and included on the top floor four artists’ studios available for rent, studios that were accessible via that sine qua non of New York sophistication: an elevator.

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In Caillebotte’s first major painting, The Floor-Scrapers, men are depicted laboring in a bourgeois apartment. Kneeling, their arms extended before them, their torsos bare, the men are depicted in remarkably submissive poses. Such a presentation flew in the face of traditional concepts of manhood and its artistic representation, and the canvas was rejected by the jury of the 1875 Paris Salon.

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The image selection for the cover of the catalog, a recent self-portrait by Senegalese photographer Omar Victor Diop, captures some of the exhibit’s themes. The photograph is a re-imagining of a late 18th-century painting by the French romanticist Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, of a portrait of Jean-Baptiste Belley, a formerly enslaved person from Saint-Domingue who gained his freedom and fought in both the American War of Independence and the Haitian Revolution.

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There were two Bloomsburys: the one that began in 1906 at Cambridge University when John Maynard Keynes, the eminent economist, and Lytton Strachey founded a discussion society called The Apostles, in which great minds talked about ideas with handsome young undergraduates; and the one that resumed after World War I, when a new generation (who were part of, but not co-extensive with, the “Bright Young Things”) emerged.

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His New York Underground show featured art depict- ing scenes of cruising, bathhouse orgies, public sex, California surfers, disco queens, urban cowboys…

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