elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Gay Metropolis: George Platt Lynes (April 15, 1907 – December 6, 1955)

When I started to browse the work of George Platt Lynes to choose some pictures to showcase, I was in awe: I really couldn't believe this was an artist born in 1907 and sadly passed away in 1955; many of his photos are so vivid and erotic that they really seem to be shot yesterday. This is not an artist that chose the Black And White since it was dramatic, this is an artist that "lived" the Black and White. For that reason you will forgive me, but I really couldn't avoid to post 60 pictures! don't click on the tag if you have a slow connection and above all, don't click on the tag if you are worried by naked picture, because this artist (and yes he is an artist) gives real significance to the expression "artistic nude". (Picture: George Platt Lynes, 1927, by Man Ray)

George Platt Lynes (15 April 1907 – 6 December 1955) was an American fashion and commercial photographer.

Born in East Orange, New Jersey to Adelaide (Sparkman) and Joseph Russell Lynes he spent his childhood in New Jersey but attended the Berkshire School in Massachusetts. He was sent to Paris in 1925 with the idea of better preparing him for college. His life was forever changed by the circle of friends that he would meet there. Gertrude Stein, Glenway Wescott, Monroe Wheeler and those that he met through them opened an entirely new world to the young artist.

George Platt Lynes and Monroe Wheeler, 1940, by Paul Cadmus

Conversation Piece by Paul Cadmus, 1940. Painting of Monroe Wheeler, Glenway Wescott and George Platt Lynes

George Platt Lynes, Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescott

He returned to the United States with the idea of a literary career and he even opened a bookstore in Englewood, New Jersey in 1927. He first became interested in photography not with the idea of a career, but to take photographs of his friends and display them in his bookstore.

Returning to France the next year in the company of Wescott and Wheeler, he traveled around Europe for the next several years, always with his camera at hand. He developed close friendships within a larger circle of artists including Jean Cocteau and Julien Levy, the art dealer and critic. Levy would exhibit his photographs in his gallery in New York City in 1932 and Lynes would open his studio there that same year. He was soon receiving commissions from Harper's Bazaar, Town & Country and Vogue including a cover with perhaps the first supermodel, Lisa Fonssagrives.

In 1935 he was asked to document the principal dancers and productions of Lincoln Kirstein's and George Balanchine's newly founded American Ballet company (now the New York City Ballet).

While he continued to shoot fashion photographs, getting accounts with such major clients as Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue during the 1930s and 1940s he was losing interest and had started a series of photographs which interpreted characters and stories from Greek mythology.

Around the end of World War II, his photographic assistant Jonathan Tichenor began an affair with Lynes's friend and occasional subject for his photographs, the Vogue accessories editor and painter Bridget Bate Chisholm. They had met at a party in Lynes's Park Avenue apartment in 1943. Chisholm, who was married, divorced her husband and married Lynes's assistant in 1945.

By the mid-1940s he grew disillusioned with New York and left for Hollywood in 1946 where he took the post of Chief Photographer for the Vogue studios. He photographed Katharine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell, Gloria Swanson and Orson Welles, from the film industry as well as others in the arts among them Aldous Huxley, Igor Stravinsky and Thomas Mann. While a success artistically it was a financial failure.

His friends helped him to move back to New York City in 1948. Other photographers, such as Richard Avedon, Edgar de Evia and Irving Penn, had taken his place in the fashion world. This combined with his disinterest in commercial work, meant he was never able to regain the successes he once had.

Focus on homoerotic imagery started to take over his photographic life. He had begun in the 1930s taking nudes of his circle of friends and performers, including a young Yul Brynner, but these had been known only to intimates for years. He began working with Dr. Alfred Kinsey and his Institute in Bloomington, Indiana. The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, as it is known today holds one of the largest collection of his male nudes. Twice he declared bankruptcy.

By May 1955 he had been diagnosed terminally ill with lung cancer. He closed his studio. He destroyed much of his print and negative archives particularly his male nudes. After a final trip to Europe, Lynes returned to New York City where he died. He is interred in a grandiose sarcophagus at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Platt_Lynes

Male Nudes by George Platt Lynes were a secret pleasure of wealthy gay collectors in the forties and fifties. Lincoln Kirstein commissioned him to photograph members of the New York City Ballet --The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America by Charles Kaiser

Ted Smutney and Buddy Stanley, 1941

Tex Smutney and Buddy Stanley, 1941


Self Portrait, 1940



Selfportrait, 1943

Glenway Wescott, 1938

Andre Gide, 1932

Salvator Dali, 1939

Jean Cocteau, 1937

W.H. Auden, 1939

Gertrude Stein, 1931

W. Somerset Maugham

Aldous Huxley, 1946

Christopher Isherwood, 1939

Untitled Nude Study, 1950

Mike Miksche, 1952

Male Nude as Dying Slave, 1952

Male Nude with Tattoos, 1934

Male Nude with Tattoos, 1934

The Sleepwalker, 1935

Two Male Nudes on Sand

The Ritter Brothers, 1933

Harvey Young, Gym Owner, 1947

The Second Birth of Dionysus, 1939

Petunia, 1939

Male Nude, 1950

Nude on Striped Cover, 1933

Mark Pagano, 1943

Gary Garrett, 1954

Jared French, 1938

Teddy Chitwood, 1931

Teddy Chitwood, 1931

Teddy Chitwood, 1931

Teddy Chitwood, 1931

Teddy Chitwood, 1931

Chuck Howard, 1950

Jack Woody, 1945

George Tichenor, 1954

George Tichenor, 1939

Jose Martinez, 1937

Mel Fillini and Teodor Starkowski, 1954

Romain Johnson, 1953

Orpheus and Eros


Bill Harris, 1952

Erection, 1952

Mark Pagano, 1950

Further Readings:

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Rizzoli (April 12, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0847833747
ISBN-13: 978-0847833740
Amazon: George Platt Lynes: The Male Nudes

The elegant male nude photographs of George Platt Lynes, many never before published, from a newly discovered archive of negatives. George Platt Lynes was the preeminent celebrity portraitist of his day, shooting for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and creating distinctive photographs of iconic cultural figures such as Diana Vreeland, Salvador Dalí, and Orson Welles. But he also produced a separate body of work, kept largely hidden during his lifetime: photographs of the male nude. Many of these photos were shot in the studio and, like his fashion and dance work, were painstakingly posed and lit. They have a cinematic allure that evokes 1940s Hollywood and the lost era of New York’s café society. Many seem to illustrate some unwritten mythology. Others reveal private obsessions of the photographer, who was always alert to the sculptural qualities of a young man at his most vital. This is the only Platt Lynes book to focus on the male nude images in a comprehensive and carefully considered manner. It is the first book to be published with the cooperation of the artist’s estate, which has provided unprecedented access to institutional and private collections, including the Kinsey Institute and the Guggenheim Museum. The result: a trove of unpublished images that are sure to cause a sensation.

Intimate Companions: A Triography of George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, Lincoln Kirstein, and Their Circle by David Leddick
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Stonewall Inn Editions; 1st edition (June 1, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312271271
ISBN-13: 978-0312271275
Amazon: Intimate Companions: A Triography of George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, Lincoln Kirstein, and Their Circle

Photographer George Platt Lynes, painter Paul Cadmus, and critic Lincoln Kirstein played a major role in creating the institutions of the American art world from the late 1920s to the early 1950s. The three created a remarkable world of gay aesthetics and desire in art with the help of their overlapping circle of friends, lovers, and collaborators.

Through hours of conversation with surviving members with their circle and unprecedented access to papers, journals, and previously unreleased photos, David Leddick has resurrected the influences of this now-vanished art world along with the lives and loves of all three artists in this groundbreaking biography.

When We Were Three: Travel Albums of George Platt Lynes, Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescot 1925-1935 [Illustrated] by Anatole Pohorilenko & James Crump
Hardcover: 299 pages
Publisher: Arena Editions; 1st edition (September 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0965728048
ISBN-13: 978-0965728041
Amazon: When We Were Three: Travel Albums of George Platt Lynes, Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescot 1925-1935

The travel albums of photographer George Platt Lynes, publisher Monroe Wheeler, and writer Glenway Wescott are illuminating documents of the American expatriate years. Together, this extraordinary minage-`-trois spent the heady interwar period frequenting Paris, Villefranche-sur-Mer, and other European cities, meeting up with such lively personalities as Thornton Wilder, Jean Cocteau, Katherine Anne Porter, Man Ray, Reni Crevel, and Christian Birard. Inspired by the encouragement of Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Jane Heap, all three men went on to pursue vibrant careers in the arts. Platt Lynes became a celebrated photographer in 1931; Wheeler, with Wescotts sister-in-law, Barbara Harrison, started the extraordinary little press, Harrison of Paris in 1930; and Wescott became a bestselling fiction writer in 1927. The photographs represented here date from the threesomes first meeting, and underscore the intimate bond they shared. It is a story of youthfu! l passion and enthusiasm that spea ks to the enduring ties that held these three talented men together throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
Tags: art, gay classics, gay metropolis, man candy

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