Art History Lecture | Queer and Trans Abstractions in Contemporary Art

Art History GradForum Presents

“Queer and Trans Abstractions in Contemporary Art”

Thursday, March 9th, 2023 | 5:00–6:30pm CT
Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, Room L150 | 800 University Ave. Madison, WI

Please join Dr. Lancaster in the Hagen Room (Room 150) for a post-lecture reception.

On Friday, March 10th, there will be a noon workshop in Hagen Room with refreshments (organized by GradForum): “After The Dissertation.” Dr. Lancaster’s workshop will focus on real talk about the tenure track and developing the dissertation into the basis for the first book. RSVP to Gabriel Chazan (

While representation is historically central to queer and trans politics, abstraction has become a major tactic of queer and trans art practices that undermine easy legibility in favor of formal and material experimentation. Lex Lancaster’s recent book, Dragging Away: Queer Abstraction in Contemporary Art (Duke University Press, 2022), investigates this phenomenon by forging a formalist and materialist approach to take abstraction seriously as queer, trans, anti-racist, and crip processes rather than a style or “look.” In this talk, Lancaster considers the excessive materiality and decomposing figurations in sculptures and installations by Kiyan Williams and Young Joon Kwak, demonstrating trans tactics of abstraction that destabilize normative ontological processes and perceptions by working with the everyday material forces that shape individual and collective bodies.

Dr. Lancaster (they/them) is a scholar, professor, and curator who focuses on queer, feminist, trans, and anti-racist visual and theoretical contributions to the field of contemporary art. Their scholarship investigates the phenomenon of queer abstraction, forging a queer formalist and materialist approach to the politics of abstraction in contemporary art.

Funding provided by the University Lectures General Fund. Co-sponsored by the Department of Art History, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, Center for Research on Gender and Women, and Art History GradForum.