George Platt Lynes


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Photographer. Known for dance, fashion, and portrait photographs, he also treated the male nude with romantic sensuality and frankness. Surrealism conditioned much of his work, and he often openly acknowledged, or even featured, the artifice in his staged subjects. Born near Newark, in East Orange, New Jersey, Lynes as a young man was interested in literature and spent periods of time in Paris. In 1926 he enrolled at Yale University but left after a year to pursue a serious interest in photography. He returned to Europe in 1928. For the next decade, he lived in a complex triangular relationship with novelist Glenway Wescott and writer, editor, and publisher Monroe Wheeler (1908–88), an amateur of the arts, later a Museum of Modern Art staff member for more than thirty years. From the 1930s, Lynes's commissioned work appeared frequently in Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, and other high-end magazines, while his more personal, creative photographs, first exhibited by his friend Julien Levy, tantalized the art world. He photographed many writers and artists in studio settings that he enlivened in unusual ways. Around Paul Cadmus, he hung half a dozen naked light bulbs that bear no obvious relation to the subject but nevertheless activate the space and, by contrast, amplify the sitter's inward mood. In addition to homoerotic nudes, he photographed staged scenes of unclothed young men enacting dreamily conceived scenes from ancient Greek mythology. Almost none of his most sexually provocative work was exhibited publicly during his lifetime. From 1946 to 1948 he worked in Hollywood for Vogue. Unproductive and in ill health during his last years, he died in New York.

Subjects: Art.

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