With a brief discussion of Smith’s trajectory in the margins after the 1960s, the book ends with a reflection on the possibility of repetition with a queer difference in writing, foregrounding the imaginative potentiality of queer research and practice in the face of the deadening effects of professionalizing conformism in everyday life.
As with Smith’s case, this chapter demonstrates the centrality of dance and queer culture in Warhol’s artistic formation during his breakthrough years in the early 1960s. In order to tell this story, I bring into relief his contemporaneous dance world through the figure of dancer/choreographer Fred Herko at the pioneering Judson Dance Theater—and his queer social/artistic circle centering around the so-called “A-Men” (A for amphetamine). Tracing the historical links between the Theater and Warhol’s Factory, this chapter proposes another line of horizontal connection, bringing together two key sites of 1960s art that are rarely discussed under the same breath. Their overlap—and the creative thriving that it enabled—is what this twin-pronged approach clarifies, with the queer social network and refusal of (straight) artistic professionalization providing the connective tissue.
Horizontal together tells a dancerly story of 1960s art and queer culture in New York through the overlapping circles of Andy Warhol, underground filmmaker Jack Smith, and experimental dance star Fred Herko. In a pioneering look at this intersecting cultural milieu, Horizontal together uses a unique methodology drawing on dance studies, the analysis of movement, deportment, and gestures, as well as queer theory not only to look anew at familiar artists and artworks, but also to bring to light queer artistic figures’ key cultural contributions to the 1960s New York art world. Starting with the analysis of the artists’ own bodies, the book moves to draw out the meaning—and political and cultural power—of the languorous, recumbent male body that is prevalent in the art of the 1960s, yet never analyzed. The latter part of the book demonstrates how dance culture and history forge an underlying formative context for queer artists—Warhol through his collaboration with contemporaneous dance figures such as Herko, and Smith through his channeling of the early twentieth-century choreographer Ruth St. Denis. Building on these points of contact, the book also rethinks the history of 1960s dance, providing space for queer bodies and their new form of “virtuosity” to shine.
This chapter introduces the reader to the book’s key protagonists, its stakes, and methodology. The chapter paints a picture of Warhol’s, Smith’s, and Herko’s robust 1960s art world, which overlaps with their social and queer world—as well as with dance history. Such an interdisciplinary focus requires a novel methodology in order to bring out this artistic milieu’s cultural and political contributions to their time. An explanation of embodiment is provided, and embodiment is used as an entry-point into the bridging of art history and dance studies, towards the analysis of movement, gestures, and deportment that draws on Marcel Mauss’s notion of techniques of the body and later movement analysis frameworks. The chapter then explains the multiple meanings of “horizontality” that provide an organizing principle for the book, from horizontality as an embodied practice with a queer political valence, horizontality as a concept in visual art analysis, to the term’s description of non-hierarchical relationship and potential for a new ethics of relationships. The chapter ends by situating the book within a queer theory-inspired field of conversation centering on the notion of reparation, or the work of mending and assembling whole by marginal subjects.
Through an analysis of Warhol’s and Smith’s movements, so often described in first-hand accounts as languid, tentative, or feeble, this chapter theorizes what it means for their bodies to figure out how to embody a queer artistic subject position around 1960. I draw on the work of anthropologist Marcel Mauss and embodiment theorist Carrie Noland to underscore how gestures, lived experience, and movements create subjectivity in a continuous flow. By attending to the artists’ work processes, I consider the implications of relatively novel art-making methods in the high modernist mainstream, such as silkscreen printing and artist book making, and their effects on the artist’s image in the cultural imagination. The chapter contextualizes the artists’ bodies, constituted by their “queer” types of artmaking, by comparing them with those of more “standard” bodies in the art world around the time, including Jackson Pollock’s action-painting masculinist body, and the more complicated cases of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, whose sexuality was an open secret under the guise of the handy, suave artist.
Jack Smith, Ruth St. Denis, and the dance of gestures
This chapter shifts the focus to Jack Smith, particularly to The Beautiful Book, his only known photography book. The chapter offers the first sustained analysis of Smith’s photographic practice, which is key to understanding the later film and performance work for which he became known. Picking up the thread of an alternative through-line of 1960s culture, this chapter considers Smith’s unorthodox mining of early modern dance, especially Ruth St. Denis, silent film, orientalist imagery, and the plastique, a now forgotten performance genre. Rather than framing Smith’s interests as an anachronism or anomaly, I show how Smith’s relationship with dance history is part of a larger story of how dance culture and queer culture were (and are) deeply intertwined as they nourish each other, drawing on queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s framework of reparative reading. Through a reparative lens, I also shed new light on Smith’s orientalism, moving from good/bad critical judgment toward its performative and reparative value for the artist, his milieu, and the broader historical queer culture, then and now.
This chapter moves from the analysis of artists’ bodies to the bodies in their work. The languid, horizontal male body in the work of Warhol and other lesser-known figures in his milieu takes center stage, including in underground film and theater. Through a close reading of Warhol’s film Couch (1964) and Smith’s Flaming Creatures (1963), the chapter theorizes the political and cultural significance of the queer horizontal. The term encapsulates the critical potency of horizontal bodies against and within the modern regime of upright, productive verticality prevalent in all aspects of art and life. A second meaning of horizontality the chapter proposes has to do with its historiographical intervention: through formal analysis, the chapter draws a new, synchronic line through 1960s art to connect between different mediums and artistic conversations, with the logic of the drooping horizontal as a connecting thread. The chapter expands the notion of the queer horizontal to include the proto-feminist work of well-known figures such as Louise Bourgeois, Yayoi Kusama, and Lynda Benglis, as well as the work of more “mainstream” artists such as John Chamberlain. The chapter ends with a consideration of contemporary Japanese artist Yasumasa Morimura, who inserts his body into the heteronormative and racialized visual economy of Manet’s Olympia.
The final chapter dives into 1960s art and dance historiography to delineate how the queer contributions of Herko and his peers at the postmodern Judson Dance Theater were sidestepped in the history of this period. Unpacking the straightening lines of minimalism’s predominance, the chapter traces how the minimalist art and dance coalition asserted itself through the naming, and then exclusion, of queer work. The chapter draws a parallel between Herko’s nostalgia for the Ballets Russes with Smith’s gravitation towards Ruth St. Denis as an inter-media queer artistic expression that a vertical, Oedipal model of avant-garde experimentation tends to dismiss simply as retrograde. Herko’s dances provide a metaphor for a transcending line that cuts through historiographical constructs predicated on place and medium. With another dynamic of exclusion, one based on race, in mind, the chapter ends with the work of contemporary, queer choreographer Trajal Harrell’s Twenty Looks, or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church, which stages imaginary encounters between 1960s voguers at the ballroom dance scene in Harlem and the postmodernist Judsonites. Self-reflexive historiographical and bodily awareness is proposed as a generative, creative practice with the power to rectify and renew history.
Henry Edward Manning (1808–92) was involved in some of the most pressing social issues of his time, from the defence of workers and trade unionism to finding a solution for the dock strike and the education of the poor. English Catholic social conscience, as a whole and with some singular exceptions, was somewhat slow in following the leadership of the cardinal in some of these matters. This article studies a barely known aspect of Manning’s social activity: his involvement in the British response to the Russian pogroms of 1881–82 and in other contemporary Jewish issues.