This week I talked with Michael Petry, author, artist and director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in London (not to mention HuffPost blogger), about his new book Nature Morte: Contemporary Artists Reinvigorate the Still-Life Tradition. The book reveals how leading artists of the 21st century are reinventing the still life, a genre traditionally associated with 16th- and 17th-century masters. Among the artists represented in the book are John Currin, Saara Ekström, Elmgreen and Dragset, Renata Hegyi, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Gary Hume, Jeff Koons, McDermott and McGough, Beatriz Milhazes, Gabriel Orozco, Marc Quinn, Sam Taylor-Wood and Cy Twombly.
I also talked with Michael about LGBT issues. Originally from Texas, Michael has lived in London since 1981. When asked what it's like living in the UK since the passage of the Equality Act in 2010, he said:
I would first say that I don't know that we have full LGBT rights in the UK. I mean, a group called Stonewall definitely would say that there's still a lot of work to fight for, but in comparison to what's going on in the States, yes, it's easier to say we have full equality. One of the things that just happened is we have an Olympic diver, Tom Daley, who just came out, and fortunately it was not that traumatic for him, but he was definitely suffering from online troll behavior in some people making really bad comments about him. He's got a TV show coming out soon, and I think he just wanted to put to bed that kind of bullying. I think for those of us in the West, it's important to remember even when you have legal rights, that doesn't necessarily mean that your life is going to be a bowl of cherries. But equally, it's a darn sight better than most people have in Africa, and of course Russia and lots of other places. The second thing is I have been involved with so many aspects of LGBT history over the years, whether it's to do with HIV/AIDS, preservation of historical information or writing specifically about work made by our community. I'm 53 years old, and I've been active as an adult for over 30 years.
Michael Petry graduated from Rice University in Houston, received his master's degree from London Guildhall University and has a Doctor of Arts from Middlesex University. He has authored numerous books since 1994, including 2004's Hidden Histories: 20th-Century Male Same-Sex Lovers in the Visual Arts, which was the first comprehensive survey of its kind. In 2012 his one-man show at the Palm Springs Art Museum, The Touch of the Oracle, was accompanied by a 10-year career-review book distributed by Thames and Hudson, which is also the publisher of his new book Nature Morte.
On Dec. 17 the Sundaram Tagore Gallery (547 West 27th Street, New York, New York 10001) will be hosting a book party for Nature Morte from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Michael Petry and the New York-based artists who appear in the book will be in attendance.
For more information on Michael Petry, visit michaelpetry.net.
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