Neal Baer Collection

Hugh Steers

In the Closet


Oil on gessoed paper

11 x 15 in (27.94 x 38.10 cm)

Image courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York © 2022 Estate of Hugh Steers / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Hugh Steers (1962–1995) was born in Washington, D.C., and studied painting at Yale University and Parsons School of Art and Design. In the Closet presents a naked man peering out of a closet at a nude male body on a bed.

Before his death at 32 from AIDS-related complications, Steers created allegorical works that related the emotional and political life as a gay man in New York in the 1980s and 90s. Embracing representational painting and figuration at a time when such approaches were considered unfashionable, his intimate compositions are poignant symbols of life under the specter of AIDS.  “In a real way those characters were Hugh’s constant companions,” as the artist’s friend Julie Heffernan explains, “[a]vatars of love and friendship that every one of us needs in order to survive day-to-day.” 

Alexander Gray Associates

Other works by Hugh Steers
Reach (1992)

See also
Hugh Steers at Alexander Gray

Hugh Steers in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art

Hugh Steers in the collection of the Walker Art Center

Hugh Steers in the collection of the Denver Art Museum

André Naquian-Wheeler, “This Artist Captured Queer Love During the AIDS epidemic,” June 28, 2018