PRINT April 2002


Outlaw Representation

“CENSORSHIP AND HOMOSEXUALITY”—merely to name the topic suggests a heroic narrative. Most of time we think of censorship as an extraordinary intervention. The censor arrives, like the angel of the law after the Fall, or like Edwin Meese, standing with a fiery sword between us and some purer, freer form of expression, some barely imaginable possibility of direct representation, or in the case of homosexuality, of unstigmatized identity.

But do these good things exist? Should we wish for them? Can art avoid censorship? Can homosexuality ever stop being queer?

In Richard Meyer's subtle and informative book, nothing is quite so simple as the heroic story his title suggests. Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art features four artists, each the target of external censorship of the classic variety: Paul Cadmus, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe,

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