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Based on an International Conference held at the University of Chicago, Other Objects of Desire: Collectors and Collecting Queerly radically rethinks the classic art–historical subject of collecting. It investigates the role played by the conceptual apparatus of contemporary queer theory in understanding different periods of history from the late Middle Ages to the present, and uses this interrogation to critically deconstruct the very idea of a collection and the process of collecting.
Beginning with Michael Camille′s study of sexual objects of Jean, Duc de Berry, the essays continue with Rebecca Zorach′s important questioning of the significance of representations of ′lesbianism′ in sixteenth century France. Veronica Biermann′s equally groundbreaking work on Christina of Sweden characterises her as conqueror, collector and practitioner of religious and political identities. Christoph Voghterr′s essay on Frederick the Great and Whitney Davis′s broad–ranging approach to the emergence of the homoerotic collection, both open up the apparatus of a modern episteme of the homosexual and its problematic forms of visibility.
Deborah Bright and Richard Meyer examine the more obvious and ′out′ visibility of modern American art practices. Here Warhol and Mapplethorpe are characterised as artists whose work emerges from a deeply queer practice of everydayness and seizes upon objects and sexual acts to fabricate a figure of the self as both collector and collection. Adrian Rifkin concludes with a reflection on the virtual collecting of virtual men on the Internet. The volume thus represents a significant collaboration between scholars of different generations and interests within art history, reflecting upon the disruptive and revealing effects of contemporary sex and gender theory on the traditional objects and canons of the discipline. Following on from the achievements of previous feminist and queer writing, it offers a striking overview of current possibilities and a series of important models for future procedure. The fourth of the Art History special issues to be published as a book, it also marks a new collaboration between the journal, its readers and contributors.
Michael Camille is Mary J. Block Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago.
Adrian Rifkin is Professor of Visual Culture and Media at Middlesex University.
The editors have both published widely in art history and visual culture, and have contributed significantly to current discourses in gay and queer theory and dialogues and debates about sexuality.