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Duncan Grant, Bathing, 1911, oil on canvas, 7' 6“ x 10' 1/2”. From “Queer British Art 1861–1967.”

“Queer British Art 1861–1967”

Tate Britain

Duncan Grant, Bathing, 1911, oil on canvas, 7' 6“ x 10' 1/2”. From “Queer British Art 1861–1967.”

The idea of encapsulating a nation’s history of queer art in a single show could easily have led to a neckbreaking curatorial endeavor going awry. What makes art queer or otherwise anyway? And how can one tell what is queer and what isn’t when examining a period in which socially unacceptable desires often had to be disguised, lest criminal prosecution follow? The press release for “Queer British Art 1861–1967,” curated by Clare Barlow, explains that the word queer was meant to express the “full diversity of sexualities and gender identities represented in the show.” Astonishingly, the show succeeds in honoring the richness of the subject, filling eight rooms with nearly two hundred works of art accompanied by copious, well-researched background information provided on wall labels—more than a hundred years of work executed by very diverse and extensive communities packed into

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