With careful posing and lighting, George Platt Lynes translated his friend’s body into a series of darks and lights, “sculpting” the man’s body with highlights and shadow. The sitter’s well-oiled physique lent itself to a classical ideal of male beauty established millennia before—think of the treatment of Adonis in ancient art. The photographer also used sharp focus and fine-grained printing to emphasize details such as the slicked-back hair and the curves of the fingers. The whole coalesces into an image of visual delight, encouraging viewing pleasure.
Appreciation for the male nude has long informed the work of artists, but over the course of 20th century it emerged from the shadows to become an increasingly regular feature in art, if not initially in galleries and museums. Throughout the history of Western culture, artists had used military subjects or athletes (and their story lines) as rationales for visual depictions of masculine musculature and to explain close male relationships. Photographers such as Lynes abandoned these charades, directly addressing the sexual allure of the body.
Still, such work was largely kept private during his lifetime. Lynes’s widely recognized portraiture and fashion work established his reputation, but male bodies inspired his best creative work. At the time of his death, this area of his artistic output remained somewhat clandestine, and much of it entered the collection of the Kinsey Institute for Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. The Hood received this print as a gift from one of Frederick Jackson’s friends.
From the 2019 exhibition Cubism and Its Aftershocks, curated by John R. Stomberg Ph.D, Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director
WGST 65, Queer Visual Culture, Gabriele Dietze, Winter 2014
WGST 10, Sex, Gender, and Society, Zahra Ayubi, Fall 2014
WGST 18, Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Studies, Eng-Beng Lim, Winter 2015
ARTH 71, The "American Century": Modern Art in the United States, Mary Coffey, Winter 2015
ARTH 71, The "American Century": Modern Art in the United States. Mary Coffey, Winter 2015
WGST 7.2 , Masculinities Go In Between, Klaus Milich, Winter 2015
WGST 65.7, Queer Popular Culture, Eng-Beng Lim, Summer 2015
Citrin Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 24-July 22, 2019.
Image and Gender, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, March 17-May 27, 1990.
Recent Acquisitions: Carracci to Warhol, Lower Jewett Corridor, Hopkins Center Art Galleries, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October-December, 1983.
Sex, Gender, and Society: Selections from the Permanent Collection, Harrington Gallery Teaching Exhibition, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, September 19-October 18, 1992.
The Nude: Selections from the Permanent Collection, Lower Jewett Corridor, Hopkins Center Art Galleries, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 20-June 17, 1984.
Mrs. John A. Bacon, New Jersey; given to present collection 1983.
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