Jonathan Katz’s book will be the first cultural history of Eros: a once defining but now almost entirely eclipsed theoretical paradigm from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s that, as Katz contends, yielded the first international movement in contemporary art. In that era, Herbert Marcuse and others posited Eros as an antidote to a capitalist conception of the body as an instrument of work, aligning it with the messy, the unpredictable, the authentic, the mad, the sexy or seditious: all aspects of genuine social freedom. From Carolee Schneemann’s Meat Joy to Brazilian artist Lygia Clark’s The I and the You Clothing Body Clothing to Cy Twombly’s scatological paintings, Franz West’s wearable sculptures, Kenneth Anger’s films and Yayoi Kusama’s Self Obliterations, Eros was a dominant source of artistic inspiration in the 1960s. Paradoxically, as Katz’s book will explore, Eros’s faith in a body-in-common—a universal sensual subject—immediately preceded and catalyzed the more celebrated development of an art of identity cast in terms of difference—racial, gendered, sexual, or otherwise. Jonathan Katz’s book The Silent Camp: Johns, Rauschenberg and the Cold War will be published in 2009 by the University of Chicago Press. He published “Committing the Perfect Crime: Sexuality, Assemblage and the Postmodern Turn in American Art” in Art Journal(2008). He is a co-chair of the Surrealism & Non-Normative Sexualities panel of the Association of Art Historians in the United Kingdom and a guest curator of the first major LGBT art exhibition in the United States, Hide/Seek: Discovering Lesbian and Gay American Portraiture, to be held at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in 2010.
2008 — Book
Art, Eros, and the Sixties