“The Emphatically Queer Career of Artist Perkins Harnly and His Bohemian Friends” by Sarah Burns— From Nebraska to the World

Burns, Sarah. “The Emphatically Queer Career of Artist Perkins Harnly and His Bohemian Friends”, Process, 2021.

From Nebraska to the World

Amos Lassen

In Sarah Burns’ “The Emphatically Queer Career of Perkins Harnly”, we read thestory of Nebraska-born artist, Perkins Harnly (1901-1986),who during his life came into contact with famous and infamous personalities. He went to parties with Sarah Bernhardt, was friends with Paul Swan (“The Most Beautiful Man in the World”),  was the frequent houseguest of Rose O’Neill, the free-living artist who invented the Kewpie and corresponded with William Seabrook, author and occasional cannibal who introduced the zombie to America. 

We are with Harnly from Nebraska’s remote farmlands to silent-era Hollywood, post-revolutionary Mexico, Depression-era New York, wartime Hollywood, queer Los Angeles the repressive 1950s, and the rest of his life. He traveled in Europe and South America, where Harnly practiced his hobby of visiting the famous and infamous graves from Vladimir Lenin to Oscar Wilde, Queen Victoria, and Eva Peron.
Through archives of letters and interviews Harnly comes alive along with his circle of creative friends and he is a character who is unlikely to be forgotten.