British artist Francis Bacon is one of the most famous queer artists in the world. (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Patrick McCrae, CEO of art expert collective ARTIQ, explains why ssupporting LGBTQ+ artists is as important today as it has been throughout history.
Currently, a number of beautifully selected queer artists are on display in major galleries across the country.
Among them, Shaping masculinities at the V&A traces menswear back to fluid Roman gods, showing depictions of masculinity and its evolution through the ages, and it’s striking how many are part of the queer community. This impact is still felt today, where we see depictions of masculinity manifest in different art forms, from advertisements by Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabbana to advertisements by Matthew Bourne. fire eateressentially a male underwear commercial in ballet form.
At the Royal Academy, it’s impossible not to be moved by the incredible retrospective of Francis Bacon and his 1954 work “Two Figures in the Grass”. It was painted just two years after Alan Turing committed suicide after undergoing ‘chemical castration’, the sanction for homosexuality. This shows both the recent introduction of such heinous laws and how artists, especially queer artists, can violently challenge social norms.
While there are these high-profile examples, the queer community is severely underrepresented in the art world. The Arts Council’s Diversity Report found that the total percentage of LGBTQ+ people in the portfolio’s workforce is 6%, while theater and visual arts had the highest percentage of workforce LGBTQ+ work with 9% in each discipline.
Queer artists have so much to offer the creative sector, but if we don’t continue to work to correct the imbalance of diversity in our sector, we won’t be able to bring about real and meaningful change.
Making this change is one of the core values of ARTIQ, the international art agency I founded over a decade ago. We’ve always wanted to change the dial for LGBTQ+ artists and increase representation, and we can all make sure we do.
Above all, artists deserve to be paid for their work, and they deserve to be paid what they are worth.
A culture of exposure rather than income is an endemic problem in the creative sector, and people from less privileged backgrounds are disproportionately penalized by this background. We need to ensure access to artists and arts professionals from diverse backgrounds, and fair compensation for creatives is central to achieving this goal.
Then there is a growing awareness of queer artists. There are so many brilliantly talented artists in the queer community, and we all have a responsibility to publicize their works to increase their visibility and drive demand for the art they create.
There is an appetite for queer artists, but many people and businesses don’t know where to start when it comes to sourcing these works. We work extensively with corporate clients who want collections that reflect the diversity of their workforce and local community.
Exceptional artwork will always stand out, and we strive to be a voice for positive change by ensuring queer artists get more opportunities.
Finding new places and new ways to exhibit queer art is crucial. Galleries and museums are important to the art world and always will be. ARTIQ’s annual charity exhibition, Homosexual boundarieswill return in Pride Month and be an incredible showcase of artistry from the queer community.
But there are so many other ways to experience art, from public spaces to corporate workplaces, and we need to keep pushing the boundaries.
The challenge is to continue to identify promising artists and help them carve out a career. If we can continue to provide the right level of support, art has the power and the platform to foster an atmosphere of acceptance and catalyze real, positive change.