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ART Wrightwood 659 to show 'The First Homosexuals,' 'Michiko Itatani'
2022-08-04

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The Lincoln Park space Wrightwood 659, 659 W. Wrightwood Ave., will show two exhibits—"The First Homosexuals: Global Depictions of a New Identity, 1869-1930" and "Michiko Itatani: Celestial Stage"—on Fridays and Saturdays during Oct. 1-Dec. 17.

"The First Homosexuals" takes 1869 as its starting point; this was when the word "homosexual" was first coined in Europe, inaugurating the idea of same-sex desire as the basis for a new identity category.

On view will be more than 100 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and film clips—drawn from public and private collections around the globe and including a number of national treasures which have never before been allowed to travel outside their countries. This groundbreaking exhibition offers the first multi-medium survey of the very first self-consciously queer art, exploring what the "first homosexuals" understood themselves to be, how dominant culture, in turn, understood them, and how the codes of representation they employed offer us previously unknown glimpses into the social and cultural meanings of same-sex desire.

"The First Homosexuals" is being organized in two parts, due to COVID-related delays, with part one opening Oct. 1 with approximately 100 works, and on view only at Wrightwood 659. Three years from now, in 2025, 250 masterworks will be gathered at Wrightwood 659 for part two of "The First Homosexuals" in an exhibition that will travel internationally and be accompanied by a comprehensive catalog.

The exhibition is being developed by a team of 23 international scholars led by art historian and University of Pennsylvania Professor of Practice in the History of Art and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Jonathan D. Katz, with associate curator Johnny Willis.

"Michiko Itatani" celebrates the work of Chicago-based U.S. artist Michiko Itatani (b. 1948, in Osaka, Japan) who has grappled with the mysteries of the universe in her work throughout her prolific career.

Professor emeritus at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she taught for 40 years, Itatani is represented in the permanent collections of public museums around the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA), Spain; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea; Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland; and the U.S. Embassy Brasilia, Brazil, among many others.

Wrightwood 659 is open Fridays at 12-7 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

NOTE: Visitors will be required to show proof of vaccination and booster prior to admission to Wrightwood 659. Proof of vaccine and booster can be your official vaccine card or a photo of the card, along with a matching photo ID. Any individual who does not meet these requirements will not be permitted to enter the building. Children who are not fully vaccinated or who are ineligible for vaccination cannot be admitted to the building.

Masks will continue to be required throughout the gallery; see wrightwood659.org/terms-and-conditions/health-safety/ .

Tickets for the exhibition will be $15 and available online only, beginning September 8, at tickets.wrightwood659.org/events. Please note that admission is by advance ticket only. Walk-ups are not permitted.


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