Graupe-Pillard grants visibility to groups marginalized by
their race and sexual orientation. Whether Tom is
transgendered or merely cross-dressing for a bit of fun,
the work deflates the importance that is placed upon
gender presentation in American society, and playfully
tells us that being a woman is not strictly for females.
Graupe-Pillard explains, “Power and the abuse of power,
such as the conflicts between men and women both
on a personal and political level, are ever-present in
my consciousness and artwork.”
Courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Approximately 100,000 gay men were arrested by the Nazis during World
War II; at least half were sent to concentration camps, where they perished
as a consequence of forced labor, starvation, physical brutality, and murder.
Artist Richard Grune, trained at the Bauhaus, was caught in a wave of
denunciations” and arrested in December 1934. He admitted to being
homosexual under interrogation and was held in “protective custody” –
a euphemism for a concentration camp – for five months, before returning
to his home on the German-Danish border to stand trial. In 1935, he was
sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and then to the Flossenbürg
camp. In 1945, as American forces approached, Grune escaped the evacua-
tion of the camp. The terror of his experiences is recorded in his 1947
publication of a limited–edition portfolio of lithographs.