The Great LGBTQ Surrealist and Abstract Artists

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Surrealist painting and photography emerged after the second world war as a form of unstructured art that evolves from the consciousness of the artist. The works contain elements of surprise and the unexpected. Abstract art is a progenitor of surrealism which elicits emotional reactions through the use of colour, lines, shapes and forms without depicting any visual reality. Both types of art have risen in popularity as society has grown more connected and complicated, reflecting a desire to free oneself from the restrictions of everyday life.

The LGBTQ community has been very prominent in the surrealist and abstract art world. This could be in part due to the fact that, in the early twentieth century, surrealism and abstraction were considered outside the norm of popular art, and the artists themselves were often bohemian outsiders that lived precariously. The LGBTQ artist was able to express their individual sexual orientation and preferences in an abstract way. Art of any form reflects the personal attributes of the artist, often in hidden or discreet ways.

What makes art abstract or surrealist, of course, is up for debate. Similarly, one can ask whether there is a definition for queer art that is limited to the LGBTQ artist themselves. As pointed out below, the characteristics of these works is how they relate to openness, inclusion, diversity, and an overall embrace of new structures of identification and individuality. The LGBTQ artist could have a unique perspective on this based on life experience, and this can be reflected in their work.

Today, many of these artists have a global profile and their art is widely collected. Spain's Salvador Dali, America's Jasper Johns and Ellsworth Kelly, Ireland's Francis Bacon, and Canada's Agnes Martin are but a few examples of these LGBTQ art celebrities.

We have identified the following notable surrealist and abstract artists as members of the LGBTQ community. Simply click on their name to read their fascinating biographies.







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United States

See Also

Further Reading/Research

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