Born in Boston in 1836, Winslow Homer moved to Paris in 1867 where he lived with his close friend and fellow painter, Albert Kelsey. The depth of their connection is unknown because the intensely private Homer kept no diary, journal, saved no letters, and, unusual for an artist of his time, never completed a self portrait. He did, however, keep a photo of them on the back of which he wrote "Damon and Pythias." According to Richard Mann, the lifelong bachelor artist used a boy as his model for several of his famous paintings of women, as in Reading, above. For the final fifteen years of his life, until 1910, his closest companion at his estate in Prouts Neck, Maine, was Lewis Wright. Whatever their precise relationship, it disturbed some of Homer's friends and neighbors, apparently beyond Wright's being black. Homer painted 700 watercolors, the finest of which are reproduced in this book from Yale and that book from Norton. Or stick with the classic oils in Winslow Homer: An American Vision.
Already an academic to watch out for, Judith Butler became a star at thirty-four with the release of Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity in 1990. The queer studies/ feminist pioneer/ icon has published new books every few years since, still sparking waves of devotion, debate, and derision. In 2008, she received a Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award with prize money of $1.5 million going to her Department of Rhetoric at Berkeley. Two years ago, Utne Reader named her one of 25 Visionaries Changing Your World. Today, she's 57.