Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

James K. Johnson


Homosexuality in art is nothing new. It has existed for centuries. This paper traces, via relative examples, homosexual themes in art from the ancient Greek vases to the twentieth century. The paper is divided into four sections: Greek Homosexuality, Christian Traditions, 19th and 20th Century Art, and My Work and that of other Artists. Examples from these chapters have been taken and are discussed, with special reference to the titles.

In chapter one there is an emphasis on homosexual imagery found on ancient Greek pots, and the almost relaxed way in which the Greeks portrayed and lived with homosexuality. They believed that everyone responded to both homosexual and heterosexual stimuli. The Greeks also stipulated through their imagery, what they considered beautiful in a man. Homosexuality in poetry is also commented on.

However, as chapter two illustrates, during the Renaissance period references to homosexuality and masochism were only suggested, and such associations were very carefully disguised for fear of retaliation by the church. This thesis will show that the church's repressive role on sexual expression did not end with the Renaissance, but has had some impact on today's attitudes toward homosexuality and masochism within art.

Chapter four discusses the works of twentieth century artists, such as, Charles Demuth, Bellows, Eakins, Freud, and Beardsley. The thesis covers the contemporary period of the author's work in relation to other works by contemporary artists. Topics discussed include: usage of images, figures taken out of their context, and relocated with new identities and unexpected associations.

Although the repression has not allowed homosexual art the exposure and acceptance of other forms, it has been, and will continue to be a viable theme for expression in art, and it has shown itself through art in intriguing and very subtle ways.