Visual Arts Program

Thursday, April 5 at 7:00 p.m.

UB Dept. of Visual Studies & Hallwalls present

David J. Getsy

The Queer Art Lecture Series

Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Chair in Art History, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dept. of Art History, Theory, & Criticism

David J. Getsy's scholarly work has been informed by over a decade of teaching at SAIC in a research-oriented academic department in an art school context. He teaches and writes about modern and contemporary art in Europe and America from the late 19th century to the present, and his emphasis has been on art's histories of the human form and its alternatives. The questions he asks of the history of art are developed from engagements with the interdisciplinary fields of transgender studies, queer studies, game studies, and performance studies.

From his work on 19th-century sculptors such as Auguste Rodin to his research on contemporary art and performance, a central concern has been the ways in which artists have used sexuality as a resource in their development of public modes of practice, pluralistic accounts of sociality, and accessible artistic vocabularies. Similarly, his research draws from transgender studies as a means to excavate the competing accounts of personhood that underwrote histories of figuration and abstraction. This is the theme of his last book Abstract Bodies: Sixties Sculpture in the Expanded Field of Gender, which is the first book-length study in art history to engage extensively with the field of transgender studies. He is currently working on two major projects: first, a monograph on Scott Burton's performance art of the 1970s, sexuality, and the emergence of new modes of public art in the late twentieth century. Second, he is preparing an exhibition on the largely forgotten career of Stephen Varble, who staged genderqueer guerrilla performances in the streets of 1970s New York.

Books and Edited Collections/Volumes:

  1. Abstract Bodies: Sixties Sculpture in the Expanded Field of Gender (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2015). Introduction [PDF].
  2. (ed.) Queer, Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art Series (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2016). Introduction [PDF]. 29th Annual Lambda Literary Awards finalist for "Best LGBTQ Anthology" (2017)
  3. (co-ed.) Trans Cultural Production, special issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1.4 (November 2014), co-edited with Julian B. Carter and Trish Salah
  4. (ed.) Scott Burton: Collected Writings on Art and Performance, 1965-1975 (Soberscove Press, 2012). Introduction [PDF]. Winner of SAIC's 2015 Jean Goldman Book Prize
  5. (ed.) From Diversion to Subversion: Games, Play, and Twentieth Century Art (Penn State University Press, 2011)
  6. Rodin: Sex and the Making of Modern Sculpture (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010)
  7. Body Doubles: Sculpture in Britain, 1877-1905 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004)
  8. (ed.) Sculpture and the Pursuit of a Modern Ideal in Britain, c.1880-1930 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004)

Click here to read about: Scott Burton at Hallwalls, January 17–31, 1977.

"Scott Burton (June 23, 1939–December 29, 1989) was an American sculptor and performance artist best known for his large-scale furniture sculptures in granite and bronze [including his 1979 public art installation in a Buffalo subway station, see below].…Burton died of complications due to AIDS at Cabrini Medical Center in New York City. He was survived by his partner, Jonathan Erlitz, who died in 1998."

"In 1979, an art selection committee was created, composed of NFTA commissioners and Buffalo area art experts, that would judge the artwork that would be displayed in and on the properties of eight stations on the Metro Rail line. Out of the 70 proposals submitted, 22 were chosen and are currently positioned inside and outside of the eight underground stations.

"Allen/Medical Campus station is home of four pieces of work, from Richard Friedberg (NYC), Scott Burton (NYC); Charles Clough (NYC); and Alberto Cappas, Juan Gonzalez, and Olga Mendell of the Latin Gallery (Buffalo).* Richard Friedberg's offers an objective sculpture made of aluminum and steel. It is polychromed with highly durable paint and high gloss coloration. It is located on a wall over the escalator between the mezzanine and the level between the mezzanine and train platforms. Charles Clough offers riders a large photographic mural based on the work of Charles Burchfield, Buffalo's most famous painter. The Latin Gallery group offers riders a wall located along a sidewalk at the south end of the station in bright colors, and containing selected excerpts from chosen poetry. The work is on colored enamel fused to copper tile. Though subtle, Scott Burton offers riders a pair of bronze benches located in the middle of the mezzanine near the ticket vending machines. The two benches pay tribute to the American Arts and Crafts Movement. The benches represent uptown and downtown directions to the station. [Both] benches are life-sized and invite participation by passengers sitting [on] them."

*A new site-specific sculpture by Shasti O'Leary Soudant was added to this original grouping in 2017.