Social Science

Gay Gotham Written by Donald Albrecht, Contribution by Stephen Vider
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Gay Gotham: Art and Underground Culture in New York

Written by Donald Albrecht, Contribution by Stephen Vider

  • October 4, 2016
  • Hardcover
  • Social Science - LGBT Studies - Gay Studies
  • Skira Rizzoli
  • 8-1/4 x 11
  • $65.00
  • $85.00
  • 978-0-8478-4940-6

About This Book

Uncovering the lost history of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender artists in New York City. Queer people have always flocked to New York seeking freedom, forging close-knit groups for support and inspiration. Gay Gotham brings to life the countercultural artistic communities that sprang up over the last hundred years, a creative class whose radical ideas would determine much of modern culture. More than 200 images—both works of art, such as paintings and photographs, as well as letters, snapshots, and ephemera—illuminate their personal bonds, scandal-provoking secrets at the time and many largely unknown to the public since. Starting with the bohemian era of the 1910s and 1920s, when the pansy craze drew voyeurs of all types to Greenwich Village and Harlem, the book winds through midcentury Broadway as well as Fire Island as it emerged as a hotbed, turns to the post-Stonewall, decade-long wild party that revolved around clubs like the Mineshaft and Studio 54, and continues all the way through the activist mobilization spurred by the AIDS crisis and the move toward acceptance at the century’s close. Throughout, readers encounter famous figures, from James Baldwin and Mae West to Leonard Bernstein, and discover lesser-known ones, such as Harmony Hammond, Greer Lankton, and Richard Bruce Nugent. Surprising relationships emerge: Andy Warhol and Mercedes de Acosta, Robert Mapplethorpe and Cecil Beaton, George Platt Lynes and Gertrude Stein. By peeling back the overlapping layers of this cultural network that thrived despite its illicitness, this groundbreaking publication reveals a whole new side of the history of New York and celebrates the power of artistic collaboration to transcend oppression.

About the Author

Donald Albrecht is the curator of architecture and design at the Museum of the City of New York and the author of many books, including Cecil Beaton: The New York Years.


  • ". . . awash in photographs while encompassing a great deal of the cultural contributions of New York City’s nonstraight denizens."
    —The New York Times

    "As Gay Gotham admirably documents, in 20th-century New York pioneering gay and lesbian artists had to cultivate networks of patrons, mentors, peers, and lovers to find needed validation and support. The result was not just a thriving underground culture in the city, but an outpouring of art, literature, dance, theater, music, and design that changed the cultural landscape of New York and beyond."
    —Gay And Lesbian Review 

    "This intimate look inside a century of gay counterculture is riveting..."
    Metrosource NY 

    "A book that not only celebrates a vibrant and sometimes heartbreaking movement and city, but also encapsulates it for future generations"
    Indulge Magazine 

    "This volume is a visual extravaganza of rare photographs and art from the gay undergrounds; it rescues and explores GLBTQueer history that has been summarily erased or ignored but is nonetheless an indelible part of New York’s arts and cultural heritage."
    New York Journal of Books 

    "It includes more than 350 images, illustrations and background essays on the social and cultural themes of the LGBT artistic underground, as well as portraits of the show’s iconic artistic figures."
    Reviews by Amos Lassen
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