Looking for new people to follow on Instagram? It's time to learn about some mind-blowing queer artists who are shifting perceptions of gender, identity, and sexuality across the fine arts, from photography to painting. While you may be well-versed in LGBTQ artists of the past, from Robert Mapplethorpe to Catherine Opie (and the work of non-queer artists like Cindy Sherman, which have shaped the ways we think about sex and gender), art moves pretty fast —and there's a huge crop of talent you should know right now. With the advent of Instagram and social media, they're also more accessible to the general public than ever.
Queer art is currently on a high: The Tate Britain in London has a full-blown exhibition on the history of queer art in the UK from 1860 onwards, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris will shortly host a huge retrospective of famous (and queer) painter David Hockney's works. The art world is, comparatively speaking, a pretty accepting space for queer, trans, genderfluid and questioning identities to explore and investigate artistic expression — and the latest generation of queer artists is something to behold. Get these names on your radar quick. If they're not already deeply famous, they will be.
Of all the names on this list, Kehinde Wiley is probably the most famous. Born in LA in 1977, he's now based in NYC, and is one of the art world's darlings, with retrospectives across the world, famous fans, and partnerships with Puma shoes. He takes the standards of European portraits through the ages (white men and women, stiff velvet, floral backgrounds) and replaces them with joyous, beautiful modern Black men and women, from famous artists to people he recruits from city streets worldwide. You'll probably never be able to afford one of his pieces, but they're glorious to gaze at. Find his Instagram here.
Artist Juliana Huxtable, born in Texas in 1987, is at the center of a storm of publicity right now. She's the inspiration behind a 3D printed sculpture by artist Frank Benson, titled "Juliana," and the star of a New York Times profile. A party host, DJ, and model on top of being an artist, Huxtable, who is transgender, has walked for DKNY and been on the cover of Candy magazine, and her own art is just coming into the spotlight. Her selfies have been featured in museum exhibitions and her next solo show focussed on campaign posters will debut later in 2017. Follow her Instagram here.
Originally hailing from Iran, Katy Jalili is now based in London, and has made enough of a splash there to be featured on i-D's list of "queer artists you need to know" in July. Identifying as gender-queer, they're working on multiple platforms including cabaret, performance art, and .gifs. They've performed at festivals and cabaret clubs across the UK, including a piece called Menstrologue that involves red-blood paint, white yogurt, and pouring pills everywhere while reading a pamphlet on the side effects of antidepressants. Follow their Instagram here.
Like other Texans before him, 20-year-old Allen came to New York in search of bigger opportunities. Now he's becoming the big new thing in queer photography, with his dreamy, gentle portraits of beautiful young boys acting as a "stand-in" for his own coming-of-age. He's still at college, due to graduate from the NYC School Of Visual Arts in 2019, but is already editing Hello Mr. magazine and getting profiles all over the place, from NYLON Japan to Out and VICE. Stay tuned to watch his glow up and follow his Instagram here.
Travis Alabanza is currently riding high. They're a Black trans performance artist currently working as an artist-in-residence at the Tate Modern in London, performing pieces about the exclusion of voices like theirs from art and society. They've been featured by DAZED and Artsy as one of the most prominent young queer artists in the UK, and work across a huge variety of mediums, from poetry to soundscapes. Their shows have included Black Trans Lives Matter and Stories Of A Queer Brown Muddy Kid, and they'll be showing their first solo show in Glasgow later in 2017. Follow their Instagram here.