Prof. Dr. Jonathan Katz

Prof. Dr. Jonathan Katz

Curator and Professor of Practice, History of Art and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies
University of Pennsylvania

Raum: 3.27
Tel: 030.2093-66214


Jonathan D. Katz is a founding figure in queer art history, responsible for the very first queer scholarship on a number of artists. His scholarship spans a period from the late 19th-century to the present, with an emphasis on the US, but with serious attention to Europe, Latin America and Asia as well. He has written extensively about gender, sexuality and desire, producing some of the key theoretical work in queer studies in the visual arts. His books include Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, Difference/Indifference: Musings on Postmodernism, Marcel Duchamp and John Cage, which was co-authored with Moira Roth, and the anthology Art AIDS America. Katz is widely known for his many essays that constitute the first queer studies scholarship on artists as diverse as Jasper Johns, Leon Polk Smith, Robert Indiana, John Cage, Agnes Martin, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Robert Rauschenberg, He’s also written extensively on Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, and the notion of Eros, the culture wars, and protest art.

Katz curated the first major museum queer exhibition in the US, his 2010 “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, which was attacked by the Republicans and resulted in an international censorship conflict over the removal of a film by David Wojnarowicz. Nonetheless, the exhibition won the 2011 award for best US museum exhibition by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA), and its catalog was awarded the prize for the best non-fiction queer text by the American Library Association that same year. His recent exhibit in Chicago, “About Face: Stonewall, Revolt and New Queer Art”—at 500 works the largest queer exhibition yet mounted—was one of the rare museum displays that featured a majority of artists who were neither male nor white, and was favorably reviewed on the front page art section of the New York Times. His illustrated anthology for About Face has just been published by Phaidon Press. His “Art AIDS America” traveled to five museums across the country.

Katz has been a central figure in the establishment of the field of queer studies in the US, as the chair of the first such department in the US at City College of San Francisco, the first tenured faculty in the field, the founder of the first queer studies program in the Ivy League, The Larry Kramer Initiative at Yale University, and the first doctoral program in queer Visual Studies in the world at the University at Buffalo. He now coordinates and advises the McDonough Fellowship, a program that supports graduate students in queer art history at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He also founded and chaired several major non-profit and queer activist organizations, including the Queer Caucus of the College Art Association, The Harvey Milk Institute, once the largest queer educational institution in the world, and Queer Nation San Francisco.

Katz is currently editing two anthologies, The Routledge Companion to Queer Art History and The First Homosexuals, while completing the manuscript of his book Hiding in Plain Sight: American Art History, Queered. The First Homosexuals exhibition, which will open in Chicago at Wrightwood 659, and travel internationally, is the first exhibition to study the art created internationally in the first 50 years after the term “homosexual” was coined. The exhibition and book seek to trace how same-sex desire, once understood as a facet within human sexuality, came to be understood in time as the opposite of normative heterosexuality. Advised by an international scholarly board of 25, and including over 350 masterworks loaned from major international museums such as the Orsay, Tate, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, The First Homosexuals will be a major event when it opens in May 2025.