Artists as Art Subjects
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Published in: March-April 2024 issue.


The Queer Staged Photographs of George Platt Lynes and PaJaMa
by Nick Mauss and Angela Miller
Univ. of California. 153 pages, $28.95

GEORGE PLATT LYNES’ 25-year career, which spanned from the late 1920s to his death in 1955, encompassed celebrity portraiture, the classical dance, women’s fashion, mythological subjects, the self-portrait, and the nude figure, especially the male nude. The first three genres identify the specifically commercial aspect of his production, otherwise known as his livelihood.

            “PaJaMa” was the photography moniker for a trio of artists who painted figuratively and eschewed the tide of abstract Modernism. They included Paul Cadmus and Jared French, a couple who had been art students together in the 1920s, joined in 1937 by Margaret Hoenig, another painter who, fifteen years his senior, married Jared. Their “brand name” was a composite of their first names. They shot photographs cooperatively on the summer beaches of Provincetown, Fire Island, and Nantucket. They photographed each other, frequently joined by a changing cast of friends—often artists and usually gay, including Lynes and his intimates Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescott: another gay trio. PaJaMa gave out their pictures at social gatherings, treating them as “tokens of friendship … family photographs.”

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Allen Ellenzweig is the author of George Platt Lynes: The Daring Eye.