FRED HOLLAND DAY American photographer and publisher, born (d: 1933). He was considered by many to be the first in the U.S.A. to advocate that photography should be considered a fine art. Day’s life and works had long been controversial, since his photographic subjects were often nude male youths. Pam Roberts, in F. Holland Day (Waanders Pub, 2001; catalog of a Day exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum) writes: “Day never married and his sexual orientation, whilst it is widely assumed that he was homosexual, because of his interests, his photographic subject matter, his general flamboyant demeanor, was, like much else about him, a very private matter.” At the turn of the century, his influence and reputation as a photographer rivaled that of Alfred Stieglitz, who later eclipsed him.
The high point of Day’s photographic career was probably his organization of an exhibition of photographs at the Royal Photographic Society in 1900. He was a major patron of Aubrey Beardsley. Now that the attitudes toward homosexuality have changed so radically, since the 1990s Day’s works have been included in major exhibitions by museum curators, notably in the solo Day retrospective at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 2000/2001 and similar shows at the Royal Photographic Society in England and the Fuller Museum of Art.
Art historians are once again taking an interest in Day, and there are now significant academic texts on Day’s homoerotic portraiture, and its similarities to the work of Walter Pater and Thomas Eakins.