Be Seen

Portrait Photography Since Stonewall

June 22 – September 15, 2019

Works by Thomas, Sepuya, Opie

The 1969 Stonewall riots are viewed as an important turning point in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. Be Seen explores how artists have used portrait photography to challenge, subvert, and play with societal norms of gender and sexuality. In the past 50 years, photographers have documented the experiences of the queer community. They have also examined how gender identity and sexual orientation were viewed historically and how they are constructed today. For many of the artists in Be Seen, gender is not simply something we are, but something we perform. Just as the subjects of these photographs “pose” for the camera, so too do we perform our gender through the clothes we wear and how we interact with others.

Be Seen features Tad Beck, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Nan Goldin, Martine Gutierrez, Peter Hujar, Christopher Makos, Robert Mapplethorpe, Mark Morrisroe, Ana Mendieta, Yasumasa Morimura, Zanele Muholi, Catherine Opie, John O’Reilly, Jack Pierson, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Cindy Sherman, Patti Smith, Sage Sohier, Gail Thacker, Mickalene Thomas, Tourmaline and Sasha Wortzel, Iké Udé, Conrad Ventur, Chris Verene, Andy Warhol, and David Wojnarowicz.


June 21 | Member Preview
June 23 | Varla Jean Merman’s Under a Big Top
June 28 | Gallery Talk with curator Patricia Hickson
June 29 | This Filthy World: An Evening with John Waters
July 13 | Tour: Out on View with Andrew Lear
July 17 | Art In Focus: Conrad Ventur’s Montezland series
July 26 | Gallery Talk: See and Be Seen with co-curator Emily Handlin
August 10 | Perspectives: LGBTQ+ Health Advocacy
August 14 | Artist Talk with Conrad Ventur
August 24 | Tour: Out on View with Andrew Lear


June 27 | The Happy Prince & Before Homosexuals
June 28 & 30 | The Happy Prince & Before Homosexuals
July 12, 13, & 14 | Rafiki
July 19, 20, & 21 | The Cakemaker
July 28 & 30 | To a More Perfect Union: U.S. v. Windsor
August 2 | Kiki
August 3 | Free Teen Screening: Kiki


Tours of the exhibition take place on Saturday & Sunday at 2:30pm from June 29–September 15.


Audio Tour | Be Heard. Hear insights from Be Seen artists and the local LGBTQ+ community.

Audio Tour | LGBTQ+ Perspectives on the CollectionExplore the queer history of works throughout the museum accessible here from any location on your smartphone, tablet or computer.


Major support provided by Duff Ashmead and Eric Ort, with generous support from the Larsen Fund for Photography, Barbara and Thomas Ward, and the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

Sustaining support for the Wadsworth Atheneum provided by Newman's Own Foundation and the Greater Hartford Arts Council's United Arts Campaign.

Sustaining support for the Wadsworth Atheneum provided by Newman’s Own Foundation and the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign.

Images: Mickalene Thomas, Racquel with Les Trois Femmes, 2018. Chromogenic print. The Douglas Tracy Smith and Dorothy Potter Smith Fund, 2019.3.4. © Mickalene Thomas; Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Study Reflecting Dureau (0X5A1227), 2017. Archival pigment print. Purchased through the gift of Robinson A. and Nancy D. Grover, 2019.3.5. © Paul Mpagi Sepuya. Courtesy of the artist; Catherine Opie, Pig Pen, 1993. Chromogenic print. Alexander A. Goldfarb Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund, 2019.4.1. © Catherine Opie. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul.