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All Forms of Love

The project “The Second Glance” shows the collections of the Bode Museum from new and different perspectives, which are usually not included in the conventional art history discourse. The first instalment in the series, All Forms of Love, developed in cooperation with the Schwules Museum, focuses on works in the collection that deal thematically with the diversity of sexual identities, and with their perception, valorisation and their artistic exploration. The five thematic paths that wind through the entire collection and highlight 23 objects offer insights into the artistic and societal engagement with LGBTIQ* sexualities and identities that have always been present in art, but have often been overlooked or ignored.

LGBTIQ* Sexualities in the Context of Previous Eras

The paths will also illustrate that the way that societies dealt with LGBTIQ* themes did not develop in a linear fashion, but shifted across different eras and contexts. For example, the liberal attitudes towards (male) homosexuality that prevailed in antiquity disappeared in the Christian Middle Ages, when heterosexual relationships came to be viewed as the core of Christian faith.

Five Thematic Paths Through the Collection

The Second Glance is an invitation from the Bode-Museum to follow five thematic paths through the collection and discover aspects of the manifold forms of love that, until now, have been overlooked or ignored.

  • The first path analyses the representation of the heroic soldier and the boundaries between masculine prowess and bisexuality.
  • The second deals with works made by homosexual men or by artists connected with homosexual milieus.
  • Homosexual male patrons are the focus of the third path.
  • The fourth path concentrates on the representation of feminine intimacy and erotic love between women.
  • Finally, the fifth path questions the boundaries of gender assignment.

Many of the artworks presented in this project were not specifically made from a LGBTIQ* perspective, but rather acquire these connotations from the perspective of the viewer, be it the artists themselves, the client, or each and every one of the millions of viewers who have seen them to this day – including you. Other works were revolutionary at their time, simply because they depicted same-sex affection, even if devoid of sexual implications.

The Project

The Project All Forms of Love can be explored both within the museum and through the online-catalogue. The different themes will be investigated more deeply through a series of talks from September 2019 to March 2020, supported by the Hannchen-Mehrzweck-Stiftung, the Instituto Cervantes Berlin, and the Spanish Embassy in Germany. The Second Glance is supported by Museum&Location.

Terminology, Suggested General Reading and Internet Sources

Generally, as a kind of shorthand, we have used the term homosexual (as the antonym to heterosexual. Although this word was first coined in the 19th century in the context of medical investigations into human sexuality, in most European languages, it is the most common designation for referring to same-sex attraction and activities.

You can find a list of sources and international projects related to the topic, as well as a glossary of key terms by clicking on the following links: