© Estate of James Bidgood; “Willow Tree (Bruce Kirkman),” mid-1960s/printed later; Digital C-print.
It is with immense sadness that ClampArt announces the recent death of artist James Bidgood at the age of 88. He passed away due to complications from Covid-19 on Monday, January 31, 2022. A revolutionary figure in the history of queer image-making, James will be remembered for his singular and uncompromising vision.
From a midtown tenement during the 1960s, James Bidgood completed the bulk of his creative output of photographs using vibrant colors and exaggerated props and costumes to celebrate homosexuality. His works were first published in alternative magazines, and he was also the anonymous filmmaker of “Pink Narcissus” (1971), which rocked the underground world of cinema with its dreamlike images. A Technicolor fantasia, it is the story of a beautiful, brooding hustler (the lovely Bobby Kendall), who creates a dream world inside his apartment where he acts out his fantasies, from harem boy to roman slave to matador. A major cult classic, “Pink Narcissus” remains influential today.
ClampArt has had the pleasure of representing James Bidgood for for 16 years since 2006. Not only have we lost an amazing talent, we have also lost a close friend with a particularly wonderful and wicked sense of humor.
A GoFundMe campaign has been established to raise funds for the proper burial the artist requested.
Bidgood’s work is central to the gallery’s current exhibition “CAMP@CLAMP,” and a memorial wall devoted to his works is now included. The show runs through 02.26.2022.
In an interview with Gayletter in 2015, James Bidgood said: “Forgive me, but I am a talent, and I have an awesome imagination and a thousand ideas everyday. I have a box full of drawings that are never going to be anything more than ideas. I used to burn myself with matches whenever I had an idea, to try and stop myself from having another idea, because it was so painful—more painful than the match—to know I could never fully realize any of these things (even though I knew they were wonderful).”