Wrightwood 659 in Chicago invites visitors to experience two new exhibitions, on view through December 17, 2022.

The First Homosexuals: Global Depictions of a New Identity, 1869-1930 starts with the year 1869, when the word “homosexual” was first coined in Europe, inaugurating the idea of same-sex desire as the basis for a new identity category. More than 100 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, and film clips from public and private collections around the world are on view, including works that have never before been allowed to travel outside their respective countries. This groundbreaking exhibition is the first multi-medium survey of early, determinedly queer art that explored what the “first homosexuals” understood themselves to be — and how the dominant culture, in turn, understood them. This is part one of a two-part exhibition (the second is planned for 2025 and will feature 250 masterworks) developed by a team of 23 international scholars led by distinguished art historian Jonathan D. Katz with associate curator Johnny Willis.

Also on view is Michiko Itatani: Celestial Stage, celebrating the Chicago-based American artist (born in 1948 in Osaka, Japan) whose work throughout her prolific career has grappled with the mysteries of the universe. Itatani, professor emeritus at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is represented in the permanent collections of public museums around the world. This exhibition of nearly 50 paintings and drawings highlights the artist’s prop-filled vision, with a visual vocabulary both cosmic and familiar, mingling particles, molecules, tesseracts, stars, planets, orbit rings, and rockets with such familiar human-cultural hallmarks as staircases, pianos, libraries, harps, and chandeliers. Encompassing two floors at Wrightwood 659, Celestial Stage features a wide range of works that includes those produced early in Itatani’s practice through new art being exhibited for the first time.

For more information and to get tickets, visit wrightwood659.org.