The Bottom Line: No, it's not pornography. Just beautiful men who have bared it all in a book of photographs, sculpture and paintings.
This review is a tribute to badkittym who has been forced to take down a recent picture showing her rear end in a thong because it caused some prude to get a hair up theirs. This kind of blatant discrimination isn't called for from Epinions Management, especially with the kinds of trashy ads they are pushing on us . . . their loyal writers and readers.
Although there doesn’t seem to be anything official at this point, This grass-roots protest write-off has already produced contributions from cletta1201 and cr01. jkkelley has a list of protesters on his profile page, and Petra and Girlboxer5 have written editorials on the subject. Sordid-1 where are you?
Since I only put my naked butt on the local naturist beaches during warm weather, I have decided to re-write and re-post my review of a book of male nudes . . . and no, not all of them are gay! These photographs, drawings and paintings are not pornographic by any means, very few of them are even erotic, in the stricter sense.
This book is a collector’s edition full of beautiful photos, drawings, paintings and sculpture--all executed by well known artists and photographers of the period. Many of the photographs in NAKED MEN: Pioneering Male Nudes - 1935-1955 by David Leddick were taken by George Platt Lynes, a photographer who was part of a group of Magic Realist artists. The group included Bernard Perrin, Paul Cadmus, Jared French and George Tooker, all of whom have their own works in this book.
Many of the subjects posed for George Platt Lynes in his New York Studio at night after he had had a full day of shooting the fashion photography he was known for. Platt Lynes was doing fashion work long before Richard Avedon came along. These photographs were the precursors to and inspirations for modern photographers such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber--not to leave out the many other photographers whose we now enjoy looking at in books and on the ubiquitous calendars everyone has on their apartment walls.
In early 1994, David Leddick, a former dancer at the Metropolitan Opera, and now an advertising consultant in New York, became aware of the photographs of a group of artists who called themselves PAJAMA. These artists were: Paul Cadmus, Jared French (Cadmus’s lover) and his wife, Margaret. Paul and Margaret shared Jared’s affections. The name of the group is an acronym of the first two letters of each of their first names.
“Many of the photographs were taken of subjects on the beaches of Fire Island. Others were taken at Provincetown, Massachusetts, on a friend’s farm in New Jersey and in the New York apartment on St. Mark’s Place that the artists used as a studio.” The author met ninety-one-year-old artist Paul Cadmus at an opening of one of his exhibitions.
He expressed his interest in PAJAMA and the idea that a book on male nude photography of the period might prove interesting.” Cadmus was very encouraging and helpful in providing addresses and phone numbers that would help Leddick get started with his project. He even tracked down one subject in Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf.
As the author explored further, traveling back and forth across the country [he] uncovered a world where most of these men had known one another, and frequently loved one another.” Not all of these men are gay, and only one man showed a “disinclination at having his youthful nude image included” in the book.
Most of the men pictured here modeled frequently for the artists they met in this coterie.
There is a forward written by Quentin Crisp who posed as an artist’s model in the state-run schools in England, and wrote “The Naked Civil Servant” as a result of his experiences.
The Depression Years: 1935-1940
The War Years: 1040-1945
The Postwar Years: 1945-1950
The Final Years: 1950-1955
Many of these men went on to become successful in various fields. Tennessee Williams became one of America’s leading playwrights. Jean Marias and Yul Brynner became famous actors. Horst and George Platt Lynes became renowned photographers. Lincoln Kirstein, who posed for the artists Pavel Tcelitchev and Gaston Lachaise, “was, with George Balanchine, pivotal in the development of ballet in the United States.” Many of the models were successful dancers with the American Ballet Theater.
One pair of men formed a near 60 year relationship. One was director of exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and the other was hailed as an important American writer.
This book is about men who were beautiful enough and brave enough to bare [it] all for photographers and artists between the years of 1935 and 1955. Forty-eight men are represented, of whom twenty-nine are still living. Their modern-day portraits have been taken by photographer Ethan Winslow to contrast with the stylized beauty of the past. This is a book to own and treasure. It’s a keeper!
(Universe Publishing, ISBN: 0-7893-0079-6).
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