WAM Pride

In honor of June being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, the WAM Collective has pulled together a list of 15 LGBTQ artists we are proud to have in the Weisman Art Museum’s collection. The artists and works ranging from the mid 19th century to today, covering a unique range of subjects and mediums. Some of the featured works can be seen on a visit to the galleries today! Works that are not currently on display can be viewed with an appointment in our Art Study room. To schedule an Art Study visit, contact Rosa Corral at recorral@umn.edu.

  1. Marsden Hartley
Portrait of Marsden Hartley by Carl Van Vechten

Marsden Hartley was one of the great American Modernist painters. Working in the company of Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Dove, and Alfred Stieglitz, Hartley spent time traveling to Paris, London, Munich and Berlin. He is known for his broad, bold brush strokes and vibrant colors. In 1912, Hartley was introduced to the cousin of artist Arnold Rönnebeck, the Prussian lieutenant Karl von Freyburg. The men quickly fell in love and Hartley moved to Berlin to be with him before the two moved together to Munich. Just two short years later, Karl von Freyburg was killed in World War I leaving Hartley devastated. Throughout the rest of his career, Hartley’s paintings were marked with symbols of grief and mourning and often featured coded references to his lost love.

2. Georgia O’Keeffe

Portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz

Described as the “Mother of American Modernism”, Georgia O’Keeffe was a prominent abstract and modernist painter who rose to fame in the 1920’s. After showing work with, and then marrying, Alfred Stieglitz, O’Keeffe came to run in the circles of many of her contemporaries, including Arthur Dove, Charles Demuth, and the aforementioned Marsden Hartley. O’Keeffe is best known for her yonic paintings of flora and fauna, as well as her later works depicting the American southwest. Though married to a man most of her adult life, O’Keeffe spoke often of her attraction to women and took several female lovers outside of her marriage, including Rebecca Strand, the wife of fellow artist, photographer Paul Strand.

3. Berenice Abbott

Self portrait by Berenice Abbott

Berenice Abbott was a revolutionary documentary photographer. She is best known for her black and white photographs documenting New York City in the early 20th century. Influenced by artists Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, Abbott began her career taking portraits of artists affiliated with Dada and other avant-garde art movements before moving on to documentary photography in the 1930’s. Though Berenice Abbott spent most of her career long term relationships with her business partner, Jane Heath, and actress Georgette Leblanc, she rejected labeling her sexuality and insisted her personal life be kept distinct from her art work, famously declaring in 1985 “I am a photographer, not a lesbian”.

4. Louise Nevelson

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Portrait of Louise Nevelson by Richard Avedon

Louise Nevelson was a Russian born, American artist known for her monochromatic sculptures and environments, often constructed from found wood objects and displayed in box like forms. Nevelson was one of the first artists to defy the constraints and expectations placed on women artists and is often credited with triggering the feminist art movement. Nevelson thrived off of the celebritydom surrounding her, often wearing dramatic costumes with colorful headscarves and elaborate mink eyelashes. She received a National Medal of Arts from President Ronald Reagan and represented the United States in the Venice Biennale in 1962. Nevelson lived with a long time partner Diana MacKown for twenty-six years though the women rejected labeling their relationship.

5. John Cage

Portrait of John Cage by Betty Freeman

John Cage was an American avant-garde artist and composer who greatly influenced visual and performing arts alike. Cage was heavily influenced by Zen Buddhist and Indian philosophy and was the first to draw on the philosophical concept of indeterminacy in relation to music and art. He was inspired by the work of Marcel Duchamp and built upon Duchamp’s use of the found object and “readymade”. Cage was in a long term domestic, artistic and romantic partnership with choreographer Merce Cunningham.

6. Robert Rauschenberg

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Portait of Robert Rauschenberg by Robert Maplethorpe

Robert Rauschenberg was an incredibly active American artist who filled the roles of painter, photographer, printmaker, sculptor, choreographer, performer and even composer. He challenged the lines between mediums, and often utilize more than one simultaneously. Rauschenberg was significant in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to American Pop Art and laid the groundwork for decades of multi-media artists to come. Rauschenberg identified as gay and had relationships with artists Cy Twombly and Jasper Johns, though his sexuality remained publicly closeted until his passing.

7. Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns Self Portrait

Jasper Johns is an American artist who rose to fame in the 1950’s. Like Rauschenberg, Johns was critical in moving the American art world from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art and Minimalism, with his influential use of icons and symbols such as maps, targets, numbers and flags. Johns met Robert Rauschenberg while working together to create window displays for Tiffany’s and the two fell in love, living and working together for six years before breaking up due to the public scrutiny surrounding their relationship. At the end of their romance, Johns departed from New York City, eventually settling in Connecticut where he currently resides. In 2011 Johns received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.

8. David Hockney

Portrait of David Hockney by Yvonne Georgina Puig

David Hockney is an English painter, photographer and printmaker who was critical in the development of British Pop Art. Hockney has lived back and forth between Britain and America and has often been inspired by elements of his environment. After visiting California, Hockney began a series of paintings of swimming pools, for which he has become well known. Hockney is openly gay and often explores queerness as a subject matter in his portraiture.  

9. Harmony Hammond

Photo of Harmony Hammond, Photographer Unknown

Harmony Hammond is an American artist, writer, curator and activist, who often explores and challenges the intersections of these roles. Her work asserts the validity of “feminine qualities” as subject matter, exploring ideas surrounding emotionality, domesticity, and corporeality. Her paintings are bold in color and texture often revealing in their strokes the process of their creation. Hammond is openly lesbian and curated A Lesbian Show in 1978. In 2000, she published Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History, the first complete history of lesbian art in the United States.

10. Annie Liebovitz

Annie Leibovitz
Annie Liebovitz Self Portrait

Annie Liebovitz is widely considered one of America’s best portrait photographers. Working for Rolling Stone magazine, Vanity Fair, and several high profile advertising campaigns, Liebovitz developed a signature style of bold colors and often controversial poses. Annie Liebovitz is openly lesbian and was in a 15 year relationship with Susan Sontag, before Sontag’s death in 2004.

11. Keith Haring

Portrait of Keith Haring by Peter Bellamy

Keith Haring was an American grafitti artist and activist. In the 1980’s Haring gained international recognition for his bright, accessible imagery that challenged the divide between high and low art. Haring used his platform as an artist to bring attention to different cultural and political issues across the world including the AIDS epidemic, safe sex, gay rights, drug addiction, and apartheid. Haring was openly gay and reflected on his identity often. In 1988, he was diagnosed with AIDS. He established the Keith Haring Foundation the following year to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children’s programing. He died in 1990 of AIDS related complications.

12. Laura Migliorino

Photograph from the Facebook Profile of  Laura Migliorino

Laura Migliorino is an American artist who lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Through her photography, she explores communities, environments and the boundaries that surround them. Her featured photograph is part of the series The Hidden Suburbs: A Portrait, which seeks to dispel the stereotype of the suburbs being only for, and occupied by, white, heterosexual families. Migliorino is openly lesbian and teaches Photography at Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

13. Julie Mehretu

Portrait of Julie Mehretu by Mark Hanauer

Julie Mehretu is an Ethiopian born artist who currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Mehretu creates thinly layered compositions that reference maps, networks and architecture. She slowly builds up the surfaces of her paintings over months of time, creating physical and visual depth through the negative spaces of each layer. Mehretu is in a long term partnership with Australian artist Jessica Rankin and the two women have four children together.

14. Kelley A. Meister

Portrait of Kelley Meister by Jaffa Aharonov

Kelley Meister is an interdisciplinary artist that creates work combining sculpture, printmaking and drawing with time-based media such as film and performance. Meister’s work explores concepts of home, belonging and personal history. Recently ze has been exploring the Mississippi River Valley as a site of history, conflict and production.

15. Emmett Ramstad

Emmett Ramstad
Portrait of Emmett Ramstad by Jacques-Jean Tiziou

Emmett Ramstad is a Minneapolis based interdisciplinary artist who investigates intimacy and the ordinary. His work presents and challenges notions of public versus private spaces, domesticity and detritus. Ramstad recently had a solo show in the MAEP Gallery at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where he investigated and demonstrated queer archival practices, collecting personal objects and mementos such as toothbrushes, socks, and underwear.


Elise Armani is a fourth year BFA candidate studying Studio Art and Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies with a minor in Art History. Elise is an aspiring curator and currently works at WAM as the projects and programs assistant, as well as the gallery learning and education intern. When not at WAM, you can find her at home with a bowl of vegan mac, a book and a lap full of pets. 


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