A stylistic precursor of Steven Arnold, Pierre et Gilles, and David LaChapelle, James Bidgood revolutionized gay male erotic imagery. Bidgood was the first to take the pulp and glamour aesthetic of the 40s and 50s and apply it to male erotic fantasies. Yet, his photographs, which range from camp to surreal, are still scarcely known to the wider public.
From a midtown tenement during the 1960s, photographer James Bidgood completed the bulk of his creative output of photographs using vibrant colors and exaggerated props and costumes to celebrate homosexuality. H
is works were first published in underground magazines, and he was also the anonymous filmmaker of Pink Narcissus (1971), an explosion of colorful eroticism that has stood the test of time.
Bidgood’s film, Pink Narcissus, rocked the underground film world with its dreamlike homoerotic images. A technicolor fantasia, it is the story of a beautiful, brooding hustler (the lovely Bobby Kendall), who creates a dream world inside his apartment where he acts out his fantasies, from harem boy to roman slave to matador. A major cult classic, Pink Narcissus has continued to screen to sold-out audiences around the world.
Pink Narcissus’ writer and director were credited as "Anonymous," and rumors flew that the film had been made by a big name in Hollywood who feared exposure. It was later revealed that director James Bidgood, a physique photographer, had taken his name off the film because he did not like what the producer and distributor had done with his work.
Bidgood was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1933. He came to New York at the age if 18—a time when sexual liberation was barely an idea, never mind a cause.
Now 83 years old, James Bidgood has lived through and been a seminal part of contemporary gay history. While much of Bidgood's early output had initially been sidelined and pigeonholed as obscenity, Supreme Court cases Roth v. United States, and later Manual Enterprises v. Day (1962) finally paved the way for Bidgood’s work to be recognized for its aesthetic excellence. Today, both David LaChapelle and Pierre et Gilles have openly expressed their extreme debt to the work of James Bidgood. Without him, their careers may have never existed. Indeed, many gay artists may not even realize the debt they owe to Bidgood.
Despite the Supreme Court victories, the cultural clim Indeed, critics and dealers did not know how to categorize his lavish set design, fantastic costuming, and brilliant color. The work was disregarded as “commercial," "lowbrow," and "pornography." Now, in retrospect, we realize that Bidgood's oeuvre was in fact a harbinger of gay aesthetics to come. Truly, Bidgood was making work well ahead of his time.
The bridge that Bidgood’s work created between the straight art world and queer culture is what makes his career so remarkable. Bidgood was not merely a gay artist making art. He was a gay artist making GAY ART. Very gay art. While the subject matter itself was not political, the act of making such unabashedly homo art during such a hostile climate certainly was. This is not to say Bidgood's content is light. In truth, the work is full of hidden symbology and political statement.
Bidgood has been making challenging work that has not only affected gay art history, but gay history itself. To survey his career, it appears that Bidgood toiled in relative obscurity and it is only until recently that his work is being re-evaluted on aesthetic merit and historical impact.
CVBorn in 1933, live in New-York
1952-6 Club 82, New York City— Female impersonation: Costumes, sets, and featured performer !
1996 Once Upon A Mattress, St. John’s University, New York, USA
A Streetcar Named Desire, St. John’s University, New York, USA
1962 New Faces, Alvin Theater, New York, USA
1961-5 Junior League Mardi Gras Ball, New York, USA
1961-3 Copacabana Club, New York, USA
1961 Hi, Paisano!, York Playhouse, New York, USA
Pericles, Barnard College, New York, USA
Jane Derby Spring Collection, New York, USA (Co-designer)
1960 Assistant d’Arnold Scassi
1959 Thieves’ Carnival, Christ Church, New York, USA
The Rehearsal, 42nd Street Playhouse, New York, USA
PHOTOGRAPHY AND SCENARIO
1999-present Computer-based scanning, color correction, and printing of existing images
1965-71 Pink Narcissus (Writer, Director, Cinematographer, Costumes, Sets)
1963-70 Male art photography
2016 “Gay Gotham,” Museum of the City of New York, New York City (Curated by Donald Albrecht) (group show)
2015 “James Bidgood,” Galerie Koll and Friends, Berlin (solo show)
“James Bidgood & John Maybury,” Galleria Lorcan O’Neill Roma, Rome (two-person show)
“Fixation,” SomoS, Berlin (group show)
2014 “The Classical Nude and the Making of Queer History,” ONE Archives Gallery & Museum, University of Southern California, West Hollywood, California (Curated by Jonathan David Katz) (group show)
“The Classical Nude and the Making of Queer History,” Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York City (Curated by Jonathan David Katz)
“Permanency: Selections from the Permanent Collection,” Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York City (group show)
2013 “'Polari,” True Love Gallery, Seattle (Curated by Steven Miller) (group show)
“Masculine/Masculine. The Nude Man in Art from 1800 to the Present Day,” Musée d’Orsay, Paris (group show)
2012 “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” Tacoma Art Museum, Washington (group show)
“Summer Camp,” Schroeder Romero & Shredder, New York City (group show)
2011 “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” The National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC (Curated by Jonathan David Katz and David C. Ward) (group show)
“Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York (group show)
2010 “Revealed: The Tradition of Male Homoerotic Art,” CCSU Art Galleries (Central Connecticut State University), New Britain, Connecticut (Curated by Robert Diamond) (group show)
“Revealed: The Tradition of Male Homoerotic Art,” Leslie Lohman Gallery, New York City (Curated by Robert Diamond) (group show)
2009 “Arcadia,” ClampArt, New York City (group show)
“MY CAMP,” Dollinger Art Projects and Inga Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel (Curated by Liav Mizrahi) (group show)
2008 “James Bidgood,” Galerie du Passage, Paris (solo show)
2007 “Photographs of Bobby Kendall,” Larry Collins Fine Art, Provincetown, Massachusetts (solo show) ClampArt, New York City (solo show)
M%, Cleveland, Ohio (group show)
“The Male Gaze,” powerHouse Arena, New York City (group show)
“Liberté Fraternité Diversité,” Milan—Curated by Alessandro Riva and Eugenio Viola (group show)
2006 Marty Walker Gallery, Dallas, Texas (solo show)
2005 ExitArt, New York City (group show)
2003 “Como si nada,” Fundació Foto Colectiania, Barcelona, Spain
2002 “Manu Arregui - Sticky Bacon,” Galeria Espacio Minimo, Madrid, Spain (solo show)
2001 Paul Morris Gallery, New York City (solo show)
Schoolhouse Center, Provincetown, Massachusetts (solo show)
Galeria Maraeini, Bologna, Italy (solo show)
2000 “Because Sex Sells,” Nikolai Fine Art, New York City (group show)
2014 Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York City
2011 IFC Film Center, New York City, with Queer/Art/Film Series
2010 Tate Modern, London
IFC Film Center, New York City, with BUTT Magazine
2007 ClampArt, New York City
2014 Jonathan David Katz, et. al., Classical Nudes and the Making of Queer History (Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art: New York City), pp. 91, 125, full- page color illus.
2008 Dian Hanson (ed), The Big Penis Book (Taschen: Köln, Germany), chapter dedicated to artist (pp.208-215).
2007 Pierre Borhan, Hommes Pour Hommes (Togouna Conseil et Éditions: Italy), back cover illus.
1999 Bruce Benderson, James Bidgood (Taschen: Köln, Germany)
- The Journal of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art (été 2014), illus. de couverture Philip Gefter, “Off to Camp: The Photographs of James Bidgood, Aperture (été 2008), pp. 62-5, illus. couleur
- Juan Darío Gomez, “James Bidgood: Surrealismo homosexual,” ZERO Magazine (2008)
- Sabine Rogers, “James Bidgood: The Hot List from 2007,” OUT Magazine, (juin 2007)
- Vince Aletti, “The Masculine Mystuque,” Aperture Magazine, (été 2007), p. 57, illus. couleur p 58.
- Ottilie Godfrey and Ben Walters, “London Gay and Lesbian Festival,” Time Out London, (avril 2007)
- Jack Leger, “Shadows off the Beaten Past,” ShadowsontheWall.com (avril 2007)
- Jack Leger, “Screen Test,” QX (April 2007), p. 32, illus.
- “DVD of the Week,” Time Out London (28 mars, 2007)
- “It’s Here, It’s Queer,” Time Out New York (11-17 janvier 2007), p. 117, illus.
- Beth Greenfield, “Gay & Lesbian Listings,” Time Out New York (January 11-17, 2007), n° 589, illus. couleur
- David Velasco, “Team Player,” Artforum.com (5 janvier 2007), illus.
- Sean Fredric Edgecomb, “Camping out with James Bidgood,” Bright Lights Film Journal (mai 2006), n° 52
- Janet Kutner, “Explosion of Colorful Eroticism,” The Dallas Morning News (29 mai 2006), p. 4G, illus.
- “James Bidgood: Bidgood-Blair’s Great American Traveling Midway Shows,” Creative Capital (2005), illus.
- Holland Cotter, “Homomuseum—Heroes and Monuments,” The New York Times (24 juin 2005) Frank Holliday, “Vast Space Dwarfs Huge Inquiry,” Gay City News (23 juin 2005), Vol. 4, n°24
- Vince Aletti, “Voice’s Choices,” The Village Voice (22-28 juin 2005), illus de couverture.
- Matt Baily, notcomingsoon.com (2004)
- Von Marc Fischer, “James Bidgood,” Zeitmagazin (2001), p. 16
- Wayne Northcross, “Erotic Revisionism,” Lesbian & Gay New York (2 août 2001), p. 22, illus. “Peter Hay Halpert’s guide to photography in New York,” The Art Newspaper (juillet-août 2001), No. 116, p. 78, illus.
- Ken Johnson, “James Bidgood: ‘Photoplays from the 60’s’,” The New York Times (27 juillet 2001) David Noh, “Dreams of Beauty: James Bidgood’s Stylized Images on Display,” The New York Blade (29 juin 2001)
- “Because Sex Sells,” The New Yorker (18 décembre 2000)
- Frank De Caro, “Two Image Doctors Pay A House Call on America,” The New York Times (17 septembre 2000)
- Provincetown Magazine (juillet 2000), Vol 23.14, p. 72, illus.
- “Out on the Town,” Bay Windows (6 juillet 2000), p. 12, illus.
- Christopher Kelly, “Pretty In Pink: Two underground films recall a time when dreams were made of flesh-and we got to see Joe Dallesandro’s ass,” Out Magazine (mai 2000), p. 77, illus. “Voyeur in the Sea,” Time Out New York (1999), illus.
- Mark J. Huisman, “Pink Narcissus,” the reel thing (décembre1999), p. 44, illus.
- “Wet Dreams May Come,” The Village Voice (décembre1999)
- Aaron Krach, Christmas’ Queer Resurrection, Lesbian & Gay New York (30 décembre 1999), p. 20, illus.
- Trenton Straube, “By Any Other Name: ‘Pink Narcissus’ Long Anonymous Director Has Found His Vie En Rose Less Than Sweet,” HX Magazine (24 décembre1999), Issue 433, couverture et plusieurs illus. couleurs, p 29-32
- Anngel Delany, “Fantastic Fantasies,” The New York Blade (17 décembre1999), illus.
- “Homo Dish,” HX Magazine (3 décembre 1999), n°430
- Rob Blauwhuis, “James Bidgood, A Master Rediscovered,” Gay News Amsterdam (Septembre 1999), n°97, p. 26, illus.
- Cary James, “Picture Perfect: James Bidgood Images Revealed,” Pink Paper (juillet 1999), n°592, page de garde et p. 12, illus.
- Dennis Dermody “James Bidgood’s Bittersweet “Pink Narcissus”,” Paper Magazine (juillet1999), illus. pleine page.
- Ed Halter, “Pretty in Pink,” New York Press Arts & Listings (30 juin – 6 juillet 1999), p. 12, illus.
- David Noh, “Where Credit is Due: Director Jim Bidgood Reveals the Man behind ‘Annonymous,’” The New York Blade (4 juin 1999), illus.
- “Pretty in Pink (Narcissus),” Flaunt Magazine (juin 1999)
- Schwule Traume, Die Zeit Magazin (avril 1999), illus. couleur en couverture
- Peter Miller, New York Native (April 9, 1990)
- Laurie Stone, “Pink Narcissus,” The Village Voice (4 décembre 1984)
- Ed Sikov, New York Native (3 décembre 1984)
- Leo Mishkin, “Gay Ego Tripping In ‘Pink Narcissus,’” Morning Telegraph NY (1971) Vincent Canby, “Screen: ‘Pink Narcissus,’” New York Times (25 mai1971)
Featured in the film, “Ten More Good Years,’ which follows four LGBT elders and explores the reasons why so many in this community are alone, without financial stability, and often return to the closet. (Produced and Directed by Michael Jacoby)
SELECTED PUBLICATION COVERS
- The Young Physique (August – September 1964), Vol. 6, No. 1
- The Young Physique (October – November 1964), Vol. 6, No. 2
- The Young Physique (April – May 1965), Vol. 6, No. 4
- Mark D. Jordan, Blessing Same-Sex Unions (University of Chicago Press, 2005) Muscleboy (April – May 1965), Vol. 2, No. 3
- Muscleboy (August – September 1965), Vol. 2, No. 5
- The Young Physique (January – February 1966), Vol. 7, No. 1 The Young Physique (May – June 1966), Vol. 7, No. 3
- Film and Filming (February 1973)
- The Village Voice (June 22-8, 2005)
1947 Helen Mears Art Award, Madison Women’s Club, Madison, Wisconsin
1950 Dramatic Achievement, Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin
1959 Silver Thimble, Mona Roset Award, Parsons School of Design, New York City
1960 Gold Thimble, Norman Norell Award, Parsons School of Design, New York City
2005 Creative Capital grant, New York City
Honored artist, Spring benefit, Exit Art, New York City
PERMANENT COLLECTIONS OF NOTE
Tate Modern, London
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
21c Museum, Louisville, Kentucky
The Sir Elton John Photography Collection, Atlanta, Georgia
Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York City
Yale University, Beinecke Library, New Haven, Connecticut (pending)
1957-60 Parsons School of Design, New York City, Bachelor of Fine Arts