News Alert: Collecting Yesterday’s and Tomorrow’s L.G.B.T.Q. ArtBy Audrey E. Hoffer -
Published by The New York Times
WASHINGTON — In Michael Manganiello’s condo, graceful boys and handsome men sit on the beach, climb bales of hay, pose beside ancient ruins, dangle legs over a stone wall, stand in a forest or lie in bed.
“I’m interested in art that addresses homosexual narratives and works that push boundaries in the realms of expression of intimacy and sensual pleasure,” said Mr. Manganiello, 61, who founded the health care and education consulting firm HCM Strategists, which has a patient-centered mission, he said.
As a board member of the Leslie-Lohman Museum in Manhattan, Mr. Manganiello says he considers it his job to encourage L.G.B.T.Q. artists and help them become self-sustaining. “I support artists who use their art to achieve social equity and help reduce discrimination,” he said.
The 150 paintings, photos, drawings and prints at his home in the Iowa building, in northwest Washington, represent both emerging and established talent. The creators include Don Bachardy, George Platt Lynes, Mark Beard, Jimmy Wright, Slava Mogutin, Roland Caillaux, Donna Gottschalk and Sarp Kerem Yavuz, a Turkish photographer who projects textile patterns onto male bodies, creating a stained-glass effect.
“The museum fights for all artists who address cultural and gender identity, marginalized communities, and gay and queer or lesbian desire, but especially the younger ones,” he said of the Leslie-Lohman. “We don’t just exhibit. We teach the business of finding a gallery, getting shows, setting prices, promoting one’s art and building networks among like-minded and straight audiences.”
These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
How did your collecting evolve?
At first I went against the grain, collecting both L.G.B.T.Q. and non-L.G.B.T.Q. artists. Then I realized I was self-editing my art and my life, and I didn’t want to do that. When I go to the Modern or the Whitney, I see Keith Haring and Robert Mapplethorpe. Those are the artists museums present to show L.G.B.T.Q. works, but there are so many more. That’s who I’m collecting.
This photo of naked bodies on the Queensboro Bridge looks familiar. Was it in the paper?
Oh, yes. It was all over the news in 2000. Spencer Tunick, who’s famous for photographing naked people in public places, gathered over 300 men, women and babies and had them lay side-by-side on the on-ramp making “a river of pink, brown and tan” — I remember those were his words. I’m the 10th man there, the tan one.
These sepia prints look like they’re from ancient Greece.
They’re from the early 1900s and are the oldest and probably my most valuable pieces. I think they’re erotic. Wilhelm von Gloeden was a German-born artist who worked in Italy among ancient ruins. He arranged boys in classic ancient poses next to columned temples, Roman aqueducts and the remnants of Greek amphitheaters. After he died, his sister swooped in and attempted to burn his negatives. Thank God most were saved.
John Dugdale lost most of his vision after a stroke and AIDS-related complications. How did he make these cyanotypes?
Dugdale is close to my heart as a fine art photographer and an incredibly brave gay man, not only because his photos are beautiful but because we were once partners. To compensate for his sight loss, he used sunlight instead of a darkroom to develop images. These portraits have an ethereal quality I love.
You shared that you have lived with H.I.V. for 32 years. How does that imbue your collecting?
It informs my collection because so many of the greatest artists in our country died of AIDS — Mapplethorpe, Haring, David Wojnarowicz, Peter Hujar. It is also relevant because the work of my younger emerging artists is so informed by the deaths of our greatest artists.
What is the value of your collection?
I don’t think in terms of dollars, although it’s substantial enough for me to have written the collection into my will as a bequest to the Leslie-Lohman, along with a $500,000 endowment. The museum holds thousands of L.G.B.T.Q. artists and pieces dating to the 16th century. I want my art to supplement their collection. I’m not married. I don’t have children. My art is my legacy.
Practically every space is hung with art. Does it ever blur?
No, because I’m familiar with each work and artist. I deliberately chose each. I’m an introvert. I love my home. I can sit here all weekend, read a book and look at my art.
Do you live alone?
I live with my art, and it’s the best company ever.