Jack Smith

Talk by Joshua Lubin-Levy '06: “E.G. [Evening Gown] Orgy” - Jack Smith And Abstract Gender in the 1960s

Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at 1:00pm

FREE! Reservations required.

Director of the Center for the Arts Joshua Lubin-Levy '06 presents a virtual talk focused on artist Jack Smith and abstract gender in the 1960s for the Wildenstein Plattner Institute. This talk is part of the webinar series Between the Two: Art and Sexuality in 1960s New York, exploring gender, sexuality, and eroticism in the art of early 1960s New York, with a particular focus on ideas and artists circulating around Pop, Performance, and Neo-Dada. 

The series begins from the thesis that the exploration of gender and sexuality was not simply a secondary theme, but a constitutive element of artistic development during the '60s. Moreover, it seeks to expand on recent scholarship that explores queer, trans, and feminist perspectives in the art of the period and in the art historical approaches to it.

The scandal surrounding Jack Smith’s film "Flaming Creatures" (1963), with its overt display of naked bodies writhing in ecstasy and agony, marks a turning point in the history of 1960s sexual liberation—one that often overshadows the artistic experimentation at the core of Smith’s practice. This talk will look to the live performance work that predates Smith’s renowned film (still banned in New York State) in order to consider the entanglements and abstractions between art, gender, and embodiment swirling in the early part of the 1960s.

Joshua Lubin-Levy '06 is a scholar, dramaturg, and curator, currently working on a monograph on the photography and performance work of Jack Smith. He is the Director of the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University, Editor-in-Chief of the Movement Research Performance Journal, and a Curatorial Research Associate with the Whitney Museum of American Art. He received his doctorate from the Department of Performance Studies, New York University.

Image: Jack Smith, Untitled photograph, c. 1958–61. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.