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Born at the beginning of the 20th century, American photographer George Platt Lynes was not a man of the time. He was born into the United States progressive era while major political and socials events occurred such as the election of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, the financial Panic of 1907, along with massive industrialization and urbanization of cities. George grew up along the east coast in East Orange, New Jersey, but departed from the U.S. after high school and traveled Europe where he was influenced by the artists he met. Particularly, his time in France led him to pursue the art of photography although he knew it possibly wouldn’t be a stable career, so he started taking pictures of the friends and colleagues. George eventually returned to the U.S. and as the years passed his photography skills became recognized. In 1932, George had the first ever photography exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in addition to his photographs being displayed at the distinguished Julien Levy Gallery in New York City. George’s work became popular for his use of lighting in portraits and he was being hired by highly-regarded fashion magazines and retailers such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and Barneys. By the 1940’s, George was a renowned, sought-after photographer in which he became the head of the Vogue Studio in Los Angeles. Many of his models were famous figures such as playwright Tennessee Williams, poet Marianne Moore, actress Katherine Hepburn, actor Yul Brynner, choreographer Francisco Moncion, composer Igor Stravinsky, and artist Marc Chagall.

George was able to take his best photographs of his subjects by having them feel comfortable in his studio. He didn’t want the model to ever feel self-conscious and in order for the model to feel relaxed and confident was through flattery. George knew everyone looked their best through compliments and by enjoying oneself. One of George’s many friends was Lincoln Kirstein, a founder of what today is known as the New York City Ballet and created a close friendship which lasted decades. Early in George’s career, Lincoln hired him to photograph the ballet dancers for the company. Admiring George’s photographs as breathtaking, Lincoln had George become the company’s main photographer from 1935 until the end of his life in 1955. George’s photographs of the dancers are still considered the best to be ever taken for the company to this day.

Although George was highly regarded for his commercial work, his best photographs would not be seen until decades after his death. Fashion photography paid the bills, but his true passion was capturing the form of the naked male body. George was able to depict gay culture through nude portraitures. The photographs were groundbreaking, elegant, and perfectly posed as the body outshined the face. The portrait’s intimacy is clearly conveyed to the viewer as it evokes interest through the use of light exposure on the model. These photographs were courageous, from both George and the models, as they could not be exhibited due to its explicit content in a prejudice era. George photographed male nudes in secret as the LGBTQ community was highly discriminated against by the general public. Homosexuality was viewed as a mental illness and there were no organizations to represent LGBTQ communities. If George or his male models were discovered by police, they would have been arrested and charged with the act of homosexuality since it was seen as a criminal offence. Many of the male models are unknown due to this discrimination. George cared about keeping the photos private for the safety of the models and only shared the images with his close colleagues whom most took part in the photoshoots. The secrecy of George’s photographs reveals the struggle and difficulties of gay life in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

In 1955, George was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. It was thought that he destroyed many of his photographs before his death including originals, negatives, and portraits. As of the 21st century, we now know he secretly handed them over to his friend, Dr. Alfred Kinsey. Alfred studied male sexuality and published his findings in his book titled Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and opened a sex research institute at Indiana University now called the Kinsey Institute. George gave Alfred the archives for safekeeping along with the secrecy of the photographs and the identity of the models in which Alfred kept hidden. With the help of Alfred, George was able to preserve his greatest achievement. George Platt Lynes was a man ahead of his time. The art of photography let George celebrate the body and express sexuality during a time of bigotry and injustice. In the 1950’s he was known as the best commercial fashion photographer of the time, but today he is known for his awe-inspiring success of photographing the male body. Through his aesthetically pleasing photographs George had a significant impact on photographers and greatly influenced the future of photography. In recent years, George’s photographs have been exhibited at the Steven Kasher Gallery and the Keith de Lellis Gallery in New York City, and at the Indianapolis Museum of Art where the Kinsey Institute is located. George Platt Lynes was an innovative photographer whose art surpassed his time.

Self-portrait of George Platt Lynes.

If you are interested in purchasing or viewing the photographs of George Platt Lynes, stop by our gallery on Via Gregorio VII, 272 and check out our collection of his photographs. Antiquariato Europeo di Gianluca Scribano is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 – 19:30 and closed on Sunday’s. While you’re here, explore our gallery’s assortment of art, objects, décor, and furniture which are truly remarkable! Come and discover your Rome memento, learn more about our container facilities, or if you just want to admire the collection. If you are interested in acquiring containers at wholesale prices contact Gianluca Scribano via WhatsApp at 333 3104172 and you will receive a reply within 12 hours or send an email to info@antiquariatoeuropeo.com and we will reply within 48 hours. Antiquariato Europeo is delighted to establish liaisons with potential customers as there are always new daily acquisitions for every person’s liking. Learn more about Antiquariato Europeo di Gianluca Scribano at www.antiquariatoeuropeo.com and check us out on Facebook and Instagram!

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