Making History, Making Art: The Work of Jonathan Ned Katz, at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City, February 15 through Sunday, March 31, 2013, was the first solo show to highlight the visual art of the groundbreaking gay historian, Jonathan Ned Katz, whose artistic talent had not received public attention.
The show was curated by the noted art historian Jonathan David Katz (the two are not related).
The same month that Jonathan Ned Katz celebrated his seventy-fifth birthday, this exhibit retraced the creative career of this late-emerging visual artist. The exhibit underscored the inherent social-historical content of art by illustrating how profoundly a shifting political landscape remade the field for representing sexual difference.
Making History, Making Art demonstrated the importance of visual art over the course of Jonathan Ned Katz’s life, and included samples of the remarkable art he produced as a child (Pop Art before Pop Art), teen, and as a young man. The show focused on Katz’s recent paintings of men, praised by his curator for their “passion, sensuality and immediacy.”
Before he was a historian, Katz was an art major at New York’s public High School of Music and Art. As a young man, he supported himself as a textile designer. At the Jack Prince Studio, he worked with designers who went on to make names for themselves as fine artists, among them Paul Thek, Joseph Raffael, and Carolyn Brady.
“As a historian,” said his curator, “Jonathan Ned Katz’s Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (1976), and The Invention of Heterosexuality (1995), powerfully contributed to the new public understanding of gay and lesbian people as an oppressed minority. The direct beneficiary of Katz the historian is Katz the artist, and we are the direct beneficiaries of Katz the artist.”
With this show, Jonathan Ned Katz returned as a visual artist to the street on which his research on gay and lesbian history was first presented, 41 years earlier, inaugurating his career as a historian of sexuality. That research appeared in Katz’s documentary play “Coming Out!” produced by the Gay Activists Alliance, in its SOHO firehouse, 99 Wooster Street, in June 1972.
In conjunction with his first solo show, Jonathan Ned Katz published Coming of Age in Greenwich Village: A Memoir with Paintings. This details the familial and cultural context that led hm to visual art and history, and presents sample of his art. Jonathan David Katz provides a Foreword. The book is available at Blurb.com, in Ebook and hardcover editions, at:
A video advertising Katz’s 2013 art show was made by Michael Kasino, and can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/58986736
Making History, Making Art: The Work of Jonathan Ned Katz
Curated by Jonathan David Katz
February 15 through Sunday, March 31, 2013
At the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
26 Wooster Street, between Grand and Canal, NY, NYT 10011