Talks & Readings

Becoming Queer: Warhol in the 1950s and Jerett Robert Austin's Camille (1953)

FRI, Nov 30, 2018
6:30 pm

Floor 3, Susan and John Hess Family Gallery and Theater

Alongside his work as a successful commercial artist in fashion and advertising in the 1950s, Andy Warhol produced a more private art—including drawings of homoerotic subjects and portraits of men in drag. This conversation explores this period in Warhol’s life, and is followed by a screening of Jerett Robert Austin’s Camille.

Conversation

Art historians Trevor Fairbrother and Nina Schleif discuss Warhol's depictions of queer desire, his collaborations with the photographer Otto Fenn, and the social milieu of New York’s gay subculture during the McCarthy-era. 

Nina Schleif is a German art historian, Americanist, and curator. She is the author of Drag and Draw Andy Warhol: The Unknown Fifties (University of Chicago Press, 2018).

Trevor Fairbrother is an independent scholar and curator. He has written extensively on Andy Warhol, most recently in an essay for Andy Warhol— From A to B and Back Again (Whitney Museum of American Art, 2018).

Screening

Jerett Robert Austin's Camille is an audacious and outrageous drag parody of the 1936 George Cukor classic film starring Robert Taylor and Greta Garbo. With an apparently all-male cast, Austin retells Alexandre Dumas' 19th-century tragedy of a tubercular French courtesan kept by a rich baron and pursued by a besotted younger man. 

An amateur filmmaker, Austin shot Camille on Fire Island and in New York at the studio of commercial fashion photographer Otto Fenn. He enlisted his friends as actors, including Fenn, who is thought to appear as Baron de Varville. For 45 years, the film was preserved by Jack Davidson, a resident of Cherry Grove, where the film was made, and Austin’s close friend. In 2015, Davidson donated the film to the Cherry Grove Archives Collection Committee. Made during the heyday of McCarthy-ism when homosexuality and drag were illegal, the film is a testament to the creative spirit of queer community.

Tickets are required ($12 adults; $10 members, students, and seniors).

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The Susan and John Hess Family Theater is equipped with an induction loop and infrared assistive listening system. Accessible seating is available.

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