Gay Art Exhibit “Protected Beauty” Opens During Miami Art Basel (NSFW)

"The depiction of men as beautiful and desirable was nearly impossible to present to the public for a very long time.”

A controversial exhibition celebrating masculine beauty and homosexuality has opened in Miami just in time for the city’s famed Art Basel international art fair.

Spanning more than a century of American art, “Protected Beauty” features than 40 paintings, prints, photographs and illustrations from celebrated artists like Robert Mapplethorpe and George Platt Lynes, as well as lesser-known figures including Paul Cadmus, Wilhelm von Gloeden and Michael Miksche.

Michael Miksche
Kinsey Institute

“All of these pieces represent a different perspective on what defines masculine beauty,” says curator Rebecca Fasman. “Together, they create a spectrum of ideas that, at the time they were created, were too controversial to appear in mainstream art museums. The Kinsey Institute has preserved these artistic legacies for almost 70 years.”

The exhibition is the result of a partnership between the Kinsey Institute and Miami’s World Erotic Art Museum (WEAM). Famed sexologist Alfred Kinsey began collecting art in 1947, and was keen on exploring all facets of human sexuality.

Paul Cadmus
Paul Cadmus/Kinsey Institute

“Because of overarching societal mores, the art world shunning gay artists, and the very real possibility of being fined or imprisoned… the depiction of men as beautiful and desirable was nearly impossible to present to the public for a very long time,” said Fasman.

“Many of the works in this exhibition came to the Kinsey Institute’s collection at a time when there were no other repositories that would accept work that presented male beauty outside of societally-accepted contexts.”

Marcel Vertes
Marcel Vertes/Kinsey Institute

Naomi Wilzig established WEAM in 2005 to explore the sensual experience of the pleasure and pain of love, and to send a message of tolerance in acknowledgment of the community and diversity of mankind.

“Protected Beauty” runs through March 1, 2017, at the World Erotic Art Museum in Miami.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.