Extending their disgraceful tradition of selective blindness in their exhibits' commentary, the Met offers a blockbuster summer show examining the industry most dominated and influenced by gay men -- a look at fashion, photography, styling called "The Model as Muse" -- without once acknowledging anything gay. Room after room is shoulder to shoulder with over seven decades of queer genius, showcasing the extraordinary visions of gay men whose simultaneous status as sidelined outsiders and ultimate insiders, dressing the planet's most visible women while their sexuality was illegal, spurred them to perpetually reinvent not only what we wear but how we live in the world. That's where art comes from and that's what the museum ignores. The omission is all the more glaring because the curators go to extremes to portray the overwhelmingly white, white world of modeling as a rainbow of inclusion and diversity, particularly highlighting the shamefully few women of color who've broken through to print an runway stardom. Yet their biographies of lesbians like Gia Carangi are completely degayed. As are dozens of gay designers, just a few of whom are Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Pierre Cardin, Halston, Perry Ellis, Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld, Versace, John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen, and gay photographers ranging from Cecil Beaton to Herb Ritts to Ryan McGinley, to say nothing of then-closeted George Michael's video for Freedom blaring above it all in case anyone needed another layer irony.
It seems an inescapable conclusion that if the museum even refuses fashion from claiming its gay history, then they must have decided the appropriate time for an educational institution to inform its visitors about lgbt contributions to the world is: never.
If you can avoid the commentary, the sheer of abundance of iconic gowns and images is pretty amazing. The show runs to August 9. Bring earplugs. Not kidding. If you're beyond NYC, check these 20 images on Flickr.
The adjacent galleries host the excellent show Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul. Some of the objects are four thousand years old, some are broken, some astonishingly intricate, some breathtaking in their simplicity. All are worth your while. The first large room includes three small carvings of scenes from mythology, one of which shows Ganymede with Zeus. For centuries, the word Ganymede has meant a man's younger male lover of astonishing beauty, yet the Met identifies him here only as Zeus's "cupbearer." Directly below that description, the curators write about a male - female couple in terms of their sexual love.