BOOK REVIEW: The Life and Treasures of Collector Charles Leslie: Kevin Clarke

The Art of Looking

The Life and Treasures of Collector Charles Leslie

Kevin Clarke


Have you heard of Charles Leslie? Thomas Mann pinched his butt. He has the biggest penis collection in the world. He is one of the fathers of modern New York’s SoHo neighborhood. And he is together with his partner Fritz Lohman founders of the first museum for gay and lesbian art in the world. Best-selling author Kevin Clarke discovered this incredible life story. It is a contribution to gay (cultural) history, rich in variety, with many images of Charles Leslie’s art collection.

Clarke’s story is superb, full of wonderful anecdote, very funny experiences, more than enough heart breaking honest truth and some beautiful moments that gladden the heart, the author has liberality used his material to project a real human side of this most queer of collectors  giving us a parallel life from the beginnings of Gay liberation in the 1950’s up to the present day. With lashings of images from Leslie’s private archive and some seriously researched background information this book is a real LGBT history month treat for the serious, or seriously causal reader.

The author guides us through the stages of an exciting life a life that reflects the major turning point of Gay Liberation from the 1950s until today. The book is illustrated with numerous images from Charles Leslie’s private archive, studded with witty anecdotes and historical background information.

The spirit with which he founded the institution – a belief in the importance of LGBTQ art, on its own terms – still pervades the space and this book.

When asked why he made this his life’s work, an answer comes quick to Leslie’s lips. “This is a part of human history that has been relentlessly destroyed, subdued and hidden,” he says. “Finally, the time has come to save it.”

Out now £45

Hardback, 160 Pages.

For more info or to buy the book see  here. 

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