Sunday, February 24, 2008

F. Holland Day: Part II

As part of the series of Journal entries about contemporary alternative gay male art versus traditional gay male art I explore the history and relationship of photography in general to gay male photography in particular.

A Comparison and Understanding of Straight v. Queer

F. Holland Day as he is more often known was the leading Pictorialist and believed in Photography as a Fine Art that should rival classical painting. He was- and is - our Twenty-first century stereotypical image of the wealthy spoiled son of old money. However, that wealth allowed Day to pursue single-mindedly his particular aesthetic interests. As such, he was in direct conflict with his rival Alfred Stieglitz and the early Twentieth Century Post-pictorialist movement. It is interesting to note that the Group f/64 photographers described their type of “unaltered” photography as “straight photography.” Thus, anything that was not manipulated from the “norm,” was identified as correct while variation, manipulation, alteration, change itself, was understood as bad. So it is that the Modernist conceptualization of photography can be stood on its head. We can easily describe Pictorialist interests - that which is transformed, bent, blurred, obfuscated, queer - as the more avant-garde, and Alfred Stieglitz and the Post-pictorialist Group f/64 photographers as stodgy and conservative. I also draw a comparison between the dichotomous notions, heterosexual v. homosexual (straight v. gay in our culture) and “straight photography v. manipulated photography. Thus, the first element in both pairs is identified with the narrow and limited, the second with the more diverse and courageous.

*Day, F. Holland,"Khalil Gibran," Wikimedia Commons, The Louise Imogen Guiney Collection, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division. Modified 18:46, June 18, 2007, Viewed 9:33 AM EST, Sunday, February 24, 2008.


Boxer, Sarah, F. Holland Day – photographic exhibition, Boston, Art Forum, March 2001, , visited 9:55 A.M. EST., February 13, 2008.

Curtis, Verna Posever and Jane Van Nimmen (eds.), F. Holland Day, Selected texts and bibliography. (1995) Oxford, England: ABC-Clio Press,

F. Holland Day, The Exhibition Catalogue, Art and the Camera: The Photographs of F. Holland Day, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 12/06/00 – 03/ 25/01.

Goldman, Jason, Day, F. Holland, (Ed.) Claude J. Summers, glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture., Revised 10/29/06, Viewed 9:56 A.M. EST, February 13, 2008.

House and Norwood History Museum, “About Fred Holland Day: Common Errors/Suggested Readings,” Revised 06/20/05, Viewed 9:50 A.M. EST, February 13, 2008.

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