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The Conversation Piece

Paul Cadmus (American, 1904–1999) Portrait of George Platt Lynes (American, 1907–1955)

This work, a preparatory drawing for a painting, depicts the writers Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescott and the photographer George Platt Lynes. The three men were in a romantic relationship at the time this work was created, and friends with the artist, Paul Cadmus. Each used the others as inspiration for and subjects in their works. Lynes, wearing only briefs, reclines like a male odalisque in this drawing, freely presenting his body for the gaze of his lovers, the artist, and the viewer.

Paul Cadmus was also a gay man, making artworks like this one during a time in which male homosexuality was criminalized and pathologized in the United States. His blatantly homoerotic work—often featuring sexualized male figures with emphasized muscles and bulges—was frequently perceived as scandalous and vulgar and therefore censored. Despite this, Cadmus continued to live his homosexual life, becoming part of a tight-knit community of queer creatives and producing distinctly queer art.


Object Details

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