Laura Aguilar

Queers we should learn in art school// Laura Aguilar (1959-2018)

"Don’t Tell Her Art Can’t Hurt (Part A)," 1993, by Laura Aguilar. Laura Aguilar / UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

"Don’t Tell Her Art Can’t Hurt (Part A)," 1993, by Laura Aguilar. Laura Aguilar / UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center



Laura Aguilar was known for her photographs which captured underrepresented populations and communities around her. She began photographing seriously in the late 1980s, when she created portraits of East Los Angeles artists in Day of the Dead costumes. She captured images of Latina lesbians in an attempt to counter the very white, very mainstream gay-rights movement, and later visited lesbian haunts with her camera in El Sereno so she could capture a slice of Latina lesbian working-class life. Her artwork was also visceral and conceptual; I'm always the most struck by her recent 2007 photographs of her own body, stretched and splayed under the California skyline. Her body--a body type not typically portrayed in art--becomes one with the desert, with the landscape, at once ethereal and corporeal.

"The impact of Laura Aguilar’s work is profound. During her exhibition at the Vincent Price Art Museum, we witnessed people responding with a range of emotion — they were moved to tears, or inspired and joyful. So much of her work is about the struggle for self-acceptance. It is something that we can all relate to and Laura’s images validate and acknowledge that journey. By virtue of being who she was, and by documenting herself and those around her, her personal bravery resonates through her images. We are honored to have worked with her and to have played a role in supporting her work and the tremendous legacy she leaves us." (Pilar Tompkins Rivas)


Laura Aguilar's "Nature Self-Portrait #2," 1996, gelatin silver print, 16 inches by 20 inches. Laura Aguilar / UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

Laura Aguilar's "Nature Self-Portrait #2," 1996, gelatin silver print, 16 inches by 20 inches. Laura Aguilar / UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

Further sources:

Miranda, Carolina. “Photographer Laura Aguilar, chronicler of the body and Chicano identity, dies at 58".” Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/miranda/la-me-laura-aguilar-photographer-20180425-htmlstory.html

Uszerowicz, Monica. “Remembering Photographer Laura Aguilar’s Empathetic, Queer Art".” Hyperallergic. https://hyperallergic.com/439921/laura-aguilar-dies-at-59-obituaries/

Jeanne Mammen

Queers we should learn in art school// Jeanne Mammen, 1890-1976

Jeanne Mammen. Two Women, Dancing, 1928

Jeanne Mammen. Two Women, Dancing, 1928

“I have always wanted to be just a pair of eyes, walking through the world unseen, only to be able to see others.”
Jeanne Mammen was a painter and illustrator of the Weimar period known for her portrayals of powerful, ideal women-- thoroughly modern divas, flappers and vamps-- in Germany. She worked as a magazine illustrator in the years just before World War II, one of the first in a generation of female artists who were able to work independently and enjoy unprecedented freedom. She captured the expanding city of Berlin in the 20's, its theatres, cabarets and "ladies clubs" which featured a flourishing lesbian subculture. Her groundbreaking portrayals feature women confident in their own beauty and sexuality.

Further Sources:

Larios, Pablo. “A Life’s Work: A visit to Jeanne Mammen’s studio and home in Berlin which has been turned into a museum.” Frieze. https://frieze.com/article/life%E2%80%99s-work

Lütgens, Annelie. "Jeanne Mammen." In Three Berlin Artists of the Weimar Era: Hannah Höch, Käthe Kollwitz, Jeanne Mammen, edited by Louise R. Noun, pp. 93–102. Exh. cat. Des Moines, IA: Des Moines Art Center, 1994.

Sykora, Katharina. "Jeanne Mammen." Woman's Art Journal 9, no. 2 (Autumn/Winter 1988–89): 28–31.

Rosa Bonheur

Queers we should learn in art school// Rosa Bonheur, 1822-1899.

Rosa Bonheur was one of the best known women artists of the nineteenth century, hailed for her animal paintings and sculptures-- she regularly exhibited them at the Paris Salon, and even won awards for her work there, a rarity during this period when women were regularly not even allowed into art schools. Bonheur’s career was firmly established and her reputation cemented when she exhibited a painting at the 1849 Salon, Plowing in Nivernais (Musée Nationale du Château de Fontainebleau). She had been commissioned to create the huge, sprawling work by the government of the Second Republic. She received international acclaim in 1853 with her monumental work, The Horse Fair, which was admired by Queen Victoria and exhibited in England. She received the Legion of Honor from the French Empress Eugénie in 1865. She was independently wealthy and famous.
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Bonheur received special permission from the french government in 1852 to wear men's clothes in her daily working life, ostensibly to study her bovine or otherwise animal subjects in slaughterhouses and livestock markets. But to attribute her dress to just her work is simplistic and ignoring her own words-- she referred to herself as a member of "the third sex" and had well-documented "marriages" with women throughout her life, including fellow artist Alice Klumpke, who revered Bonheur (34 years her elder), and painted her portrait.

Further sources:

"National Museum of Women in the Arts." Rosa Bonheur | National Museum of Women in the Arts. Accessed November 07, 2018. https://nmwa.org/explore/artist-profiles/rosa-bonheur.

"Rosa Bonheur Overview and Analysis." The Art Story. Accessed November 07, 2018. https://www.theartstory.org/artist-bonheur-rosa.htm.

Whitney Chadwick. "The Fine Art of Gentling: Horses, Women and Rosa Bonheur in Victorian England." The Body Imaged: The Human Form and Visual Culture Since the Renaissance. Ed. Kathleen Adler and Marcia Pointon. Cambridge, 1993.

Anna Klumpke, “Portrait of Rosa Bonheur” (1898)

Anna Klumpke, “Portrait of Rosa Bonheur” (1898)