Queer Studies in Art History proceeds from the recognition that while the arts in general have often been a refuge for those marginalized because of their sexuality, they have hardly been a paragon of freedom. Queer artists necessarily pursued a range of strategies to cloak imagery that could reveal their sexuality, often electing to make work that signified very differently to different audiences with different competencies. Only rarely does queer art figure sexuality directly, for it is more commonly evidenced among questions of absence, allegory, metaphor, and authorial dissimulation—forms of tracking sexual difference in the gaps between representations, rather than the representation itself.
While queer studies can and should apply to every other field of study, it tends towards a deeper presence in 19th and 20th century, American, and Contemporary. Always, we treat queerness intersectionally, for sexuality always travels alongside gender, race, class, not to mention complicated questions of chronology, geography, and epistemology.