The Gorgeous and Garish Works of Paul Cadmus

American great artist Paul Cadmus’ controversial subjects such as sailors and sunbathers, models and mannequins are all immersed with a tranquil sensuality and graceful artifice. His works are known for their satiric innocence. His arts were satire and social critique of his times. Cadmus exquisite rendering of male bodies excellently represent the behaviour of male gay gaze. Most of his work s documents the sneaky cruising rituals of an urban, gay male subculture in the 1930s.

Born in New York City on December 17, 1904 into a family of commercial artists, Cadmus studied at the National Academy of Design and the Arts Students League. In 1931, he traveled throughout Europe with his lover Jared French. They visited Italy to study in the museums, where Cadmus learned the technique of egg tempera, combined with oil, in the Italian Renaissance painting style.
In the 1930s, Cadmus became the center of a circle of gay men who were prominent within the arts in New York City. This circle included his brother-in-law, Lincoln Kirstein, who helped found the American School of Ballet, and the photographer George Platt Lynes, for whom Cadmus frequently modeled.

Along with fellow painters Bernard Perlin, Jared French, and George Tooker, Cadmus became known as a "Magical Realist," though none of the artists truly accepted the term. Although the "magic realism" with which Cadmus was identified fell out of favor in the 1950s and Cadmus's reputation went into decline, near the end of his life there was a renewed interest in his work, sparked at least in part by the success of the gay and lesbian liberation movement, as well as by a resurgence of interest in representational art.

Cadmus has spent many remarkable decades honing a his complex style of idealized sexuality and vivid displeasure of the society. He died quietly at home during the evening of December 12th, 1999, while watching television with Jon at their suburban home, without any illness other than advancing age.

Paul Cadmus