Review: Out/Lines & Lust Unearthed

Artist(s): Various.

Published in 2002 by Arsenal Pulp Press, Out/Lines is a startling collection of pre-Stonewall gay art by gay artists, some well-known, but most completely forgotten – the editor, Thomas Waugh, hasn’t even been able to find the names of all the artists. Besides the 200 drawings reproduced, Waugh has written compelling articles on the context in which those drawings were made and the various ways they circulated among their audience, often in the form of small photographs. Also included are information and (when available) short biographies of some of the artists. Of course, a lot of drawings can now be found on the net, but here, Waugh’s texts provide a much more rounded experience for the reader. And some drawings are pretty rare, anyway. If you want to see what people before the 70′s jerked off to, this is the book for you. And I must say that a good part of these artists were at least as good as more mainstream ones.

Lust Unearthed is the 2004 follow-up to Out/Lines. Another 200-plus offering of vintage gay art, this time from a private collection, with Waugh writing new essays which illuminate the circumstances of the findings of this collection and the life of the collector. Arranged thematically, the drawings are also captioned with comments by Waugh and quotes from various queer writings by Ackerley, Baldwin, Cocteau… , making strange and unexpected connections between high literature and (often) low-brow art.
Both books are delightful and entertaining, to say the least. Arsenal Pulp Press and Thomas Waugh must be commended for making available some of the most erotic and beautiful gay art I’ve ever seen.

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