Post WW II
North American Art


North American Art
Before the
Second World War

Paul Cadmus

 

To get a larger version, click on the thumbnail version of a picture.

 

Cadmus: [photo] about 1925  Paul Cadmus

born: New York, NY, US; 17 December 1904
died: Weston, CT, US; 12 December 1999

 

Paul Cadmus is an artist who was in general out of favor with the mainstream art establishment throughout his career. In his more public art he is an artist like Norman Rockwell who can deliver a realistic picture which conveys a story. Rockwell's stories are better than Cadmus who tends toward a satirical bent; where Rockwell tends toward the sentimental. Cadmus is the better draftsman of the two; although he and Rockwell are both very good. There is always a tinge of the sexual, and usually homosexual, in the Cadmus imagery. With Rockwell it is always pure fantasy schmaltz.

Cadmus is certainly the best draftsman of the "Magic Realist" School. The others Jared French and George Tooker tend toward abstract, puppet people where Cadmus always heads for the realistic.

This realism and craft made him unpopular with art critics who found that there was little expression in his work. Expressionism was the driving force behind most of the modern art during the central part of the twentieth century. So he was mostly forgotten.

This is the first of a three part gallery spanning the seventy-five active years Paul Cadmus spent doing art. There is a summary biography interleaved with the pictures, to provide some context for the art work.

 

 

Year Age Events
1919 14 Left high school entered National Academy of Design.
1923 18 Studied Print making with William Auerbach-Levy.
1926 21 Finished course work at National Academy of Design
1928 23 Layout artist at NY Ad agency; Classes at the Art Students League with Joseph Pennell and Charles Locke; Meets Jared French at the Art Students League.
1931 26

Quits job at NY Ad agency and decides to become a professional artist.

French and Cadmus leave for France on an oil tanker. Went to Paris first then bought bicycles in Chartres and toured museums and churches throughout France and Spain.

They end up in Mallorca at Puerto de Andraitx. Cadmus paints his several major pictures: YMCA Locker Room, Shore Leave, Bicyclists, and others. Many of these are shown below.

In Bicyclists Cadmus employs a visual pun with one bicyclist's thumb, a trick which he apparently never used again. This was, I suppose, to show there was more on their minds than exchanging directions.

 

 

alt spelling: cadamus p cadmus

Cadmus,Paul: Puerto de Andraitx—
Mallorca I

Puerto de Andraitx—
Mallorca

1932
Oil on Canvas,
8½ x 10½ in
Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH, US

Cadmus,Paul: Puerto de Andraitx—
Mallorca II

Puerto de Andraitx—
Mallorca

1932
Oil on Canvas,
16 x 20 in.
The Regis Collection
Minneapolis, MN, US

Cadmus,Paul: Mallorcan Fishermen

Mallorcan Fishermen
1932
Oil on Canvas,
22 x 20 in
Private Collection

Cadmus,Paul: Juan

Juan
1932
Oil on Canvas, 13 x 10¼ in
Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH, US

 

 

Cadmus,Paul: Bicyclists

Bicyclists
1933
Oil on Canvas
36 x 18 in
The Regis Collection
Minneapolis, MN, US

 

1932 27 Cadmus and French resumed touring and saw Germany, Austria, and Italy before returning to Mallorca.
1933 28 Cadmus' sister sends him ad for Public Works of Art Project. Running low on money Cadmus and French returned to NY in October. Cadmus was admitted to the PWAP in December.

 

Cadmus,Paul: Shore Leave

Shore Leave
1933
Oil on Canvas, 33 x 36 in
Whitney Museum of American Art
New York, NY, US

Cadmus,Paul: YMCA Locker Room

YMCA Locker Room
1933
Oil on Canvas, 19½ X 39¼ inches
Collection of John P. Axelrod

 

Cadmus,Paul: [etching] YMCA Locker Room II

YMCA Locker Room II
1934
Etching 16.3 x 31.9 in
Fine Art Museums
San Francisco, CA, US

Cadmus,Paul: The Fleet’s In!

The Fleet’s In!
1934
Oil on canvas, 30 x 60 inches
The Navy Museum
Washington, D.C., US

Cadmus,Paul: Greenwich Village
Cafeteria

Greenwich Village
Cafeteria

1934
Oil on Canvas, 25½ x 39½ in
US Public Works of Art
on loan to
Museum of Modern Art
New York, NY, US

Cadmus,Paul: Coney Island

Coney Island
1934
Oil on Canvas, 32¼ x 36¼ in
County Museum of Art
Los Angeles, CA, US

 

 

1934 29 The Fleet's In! (shown above) sponsored by the PWAP was shown at the Whitney Museum. The exhibition moved to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC where an Admiral saw it and demanded that it be removed. This threw Cadmus into national importance if not notoriety.
1935 30

Coney Island (shown above) was shown at the Whitney Museum. The Coney Island realtors threaten a court suit.

The PWAP commissioned a series on Suburban Life for the Long Island Post Office. The murals were never produced because of Cadmus' sarcastic treatment of the subjects. Half-size easel pictures were painted and paid for by the PWAP. These pictures or sketches for the pictures are shown below.

Sometime in this period Cadmus met Lincoln Kirstine and probably through him George Platt Lynes, Monroe Wheeler, and Glenway Wescott.

 

Aspects of Suburban Life

Cadmus,Paul: Regatta

Regatta
1935
Mixed Technique on wood,
5 x 8¼ in
Collection of John P. Axelrod


Regatta while not formally a part of the series on suburban life was done at the same time and clearly takes the same point of view.

 

Cadmus,Paul: Commuter Rush

Commuter Rush
1935
Mixed Technique on paper,
5½ x 12 in
The Regis Collection
Minneapolis, MN, US

Cadmus,Paul: Golf

Golf
1936
Mixed Technique on wood,
30 x 60 in
National Smithsonian Museum of American Art
Washington, DC, US

Cadmus,Paul: Polo Spill

Polo Spill
1936
Mixed Technique on wood
30 x 52 in
National Smithsonian Museum of American Art
Washington, DC, US

Cadmus,Paul: [etching] Polo Spill II

Polo Spill II
1938
Etching, 18 x 25 cm
Fine Art Museums
San Francisco, CA, US

Cadmus,Paul: Main Street

Main Street
1936
Mixed Technique on wood,
30 x 52
The Regis Collection
Minneapolis, MN, US

Cadmus,Paul: Public Dock

Public Dock
1936
Mixed Technique on wood,
30 x 52 in
National Smithsonian Museum of American Art
Washington, DC, US

 

The action in the Aspects of Suburban Life pictures are a sharp contrast to the generally static pictures that Cadmus usually painted. His first attempt at action in the Mallorcan Fishermen (shown in the first group of pictures) comes off stilted and artificial. Although there is an unmistakable sexual tension in the picture.

In the Suburban Life series Cadmus shows he can capture action successfully. But apparently he doesn't like it, and for the rest of his life his pictures tend toward a static, almost sculptural quality.

To show how Cadmus developed his pictures there is a trio of images below. He would start by doing one or more sketches in preparation for the painting. Then he would do the painting. Finally he would make an etching which would be printed in an edition of 75 to 100 prints. These would be independently sold.

In this period, Cadmus was using a mixed technique involving both oil paint and an egg based tempura paint. Eventually, about the start of WW II, he would leave oils behind entirely. However the egg based tempura paint while it produces beautiful images is slow and exacting to work with.

 

 

Cadmus,Paul: [drawing] Horseplay sketch

Horseplay sketch
1935
Pen and ink on paper,
10 x 4¾ in
Addison Gallery of American Art
Phillips Academy
Andover, MA, US

Cadmus,Paul: Horseplay

Horseplay
1935
Mixed technique
on pressed wood panel,
18 x 9 in
Private Collection

Cadmus,Paul: [etching] Horseplay II

Horseplay II
1935
Etching,
23.3 x 12.3 inches
Fine Art Museums
San Francisco, CA, US

 

 

Cadmus,Paul: Gilding the Acrobats

Gilding the Acrobats
1935
Mixed techniques (oil and tempera)
on pressed wood panel,
36 ½ x 18 ½ in
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, NY, US

 

 

1937 32

Cadmus has his first one-man show at the NY Midtown Galleries. 7,000 people visited the show.

Cadmus designs sets and costumes for Ballet “Filling Station” with music by Virgil Thompson, choreographed by Lew Christensen, and produced by Lincoln Kirstein for the traveling group Ballet Caravan.

Jared French marries Margaret Hoening. French move out of their apartment, but he and Cadmus continue to share a studio in Greenwich Village.

1938 33

Pocahontas mural (not shown) for Parcel Post building in Richmond Va causes controversy because of a fox fur loincloth which was considered suggestive. Cadmus changed the loincloth from a fox head to a fox tail.

 

 

 

Cadmus,Paul: Venus and Adonis

Venus and Adonis
1936
Mixed Technique on wood,
28 5/8 x 32 ½ in
Collection Forbes Magazine

Cadmus,Paul: Fidelma

Fidelma
1937
Oil and tempera on linen,
19½ x 30¼ in
Delaware Art Museum
?, DL, US
   

 

 

Cadmus,Paul: George Platt Lynes

George Platt Lynes
1938
Mixed Technique on linen on wood,
12 x 9 in
Private Collection

Lynes,George Platt: Paul Cadmus and Jared French

George Platt Lynes:
Paul Cadmus and Jared French

1938

 

 

1939 34

Seeing the New Year In causes controversy at the Whitney because of its recognizable portraits.

George Platt Lynes was a young gay fashion photographer who lived with Glenway Wescott (writer/novelist) and Monroe Wheeler (book designer/publisher). Lynes made money with fashion photography and portraiture, and spent it faster than he made it. He also photographed his friends and any male model he was fascinated by. He was close friends with Cadmus, who he photographed many times. Sometimes in the nude or near nude. Lynes, one of the most creative photographers of the mid-century years, had a passion for photographing the male body. These pictures were not commercial in any way. Homophobia was strong in mid century US, and there was no market for this kind of art. George Tichenor worked for Lynes as a photographic assistant. George Platt Lynes introduces Cadmus to the Tichenor boys, George and Jonathan.

The influence of the Lynes on Cadmus should not be underestimated. Lynes was adamant in his admiration of the male body and carried that into his photographic art. The issues of how to present these images were discussed between them over and over, and Lynes was probably one of the inspirations for Cadmus experimenting with photography.

Cadmus, did the sketch of The Bathers and Reclining Youth (pictures show below) at this time, and I believe that it is not a coincidence that this was a period when the George Platt Lynes/Paul Cadmus friendship was at its strongest. The act of drawing the male as an art object was a major change for Cadmus; perhaps not a change of interest, but definitely a change in how he viewed his art.

The group of Lynes/Wheeler/Wescott were the social group around Cadmus. Cadmus did pictures of all of them, as well as Wescott's parents, and Lynes mother. These pictures are all in private hands and colored reproductions of them can't be found.

Fire Island off NY Long Island becomes a common summer vacation spot for Cadmus and many of his associates. It is famous for nude bathing and gay crusing.

 
1940 35

Life magazine commissioned a painting to document the Labor movement in the US. The Herrin Massacre was never published for fear of offending organized labor.

Another scandal arose around Sailors and Floosies which was removed and then rehung at the Golden Gate International Exhibition in San Francisco.

Jared French introduces Cadmus to egg yolk tempera.

Cadmus begins to play with photography. Paul, Jared, and Margaret form the PaJaMa photo group to do artsy 35 mm photography.

 PaJaMa: [photo] Fire Island:
Jose Martinez and Paul Cadmus

Fire Island:
Jose Martinez and Paul Cadmus.

Photo by Margaret or Jared French      

 

Cadmus,Paul: [etching] Two Boys on a Beach II

Two Boys on a Beach II
1938
Etching,
13.1 x 18.2 in
Fine Art Museums
San Francisco, CA, US

 

Cadmus,Paul: Sailors and Floosies

Sailors and Floosies
1938
Mixed Technique on linen on wood,
25 x 39½ in
Whitney Museum of American Art
New York, NY, US

Cadmus,Paul: Seeing the New Year In

Seeing the New Year In
1939
Mixed Technique on linen on wood,
30 x 38 in
Collection Forbes Magazine

Cadmus,Paul: Herrin Massacre

Herrin Massacre
1940
Mixed Technique on linen on wood,
35½ x 27 in
Collection: Robert E White Jr.

Cadmus,Paul: Hinky Dinky Parley Voo

Hinky Dinky Parley Voo
1939
Oil and tempera on linen,
36 x 36 in
Collection: Linda Lichtenberg Kaplan

 

Cadmus,Paul: [drawing] Bathers

Bathers
1939
Ink wash and white watercolor on blue paper,
14½ x 22 in
Collection: Goff/Meade

 

Cadmus,Paul: [drawing] Male Torso ZZ

Male Torso ZZ
1939-40
Pen and ink on paper,
9¼ x 7 in
Collection: Rudd and Gerard Walter Canaday

Cadmus,Paul: [drawing] Reclining Youth

Reclining Youth
c 1940
Pen and Ink on Paper,
18 x 20 in.
Institute of the Arts
Detroit, MI, US

Cadmus,Paul: Aviator

Aviator
1941
Egg tempera on pressed wood panel,
12 x 6 inches
DC Moore Gallery
New York, NY, US

Cadmus,Paul: [etching] Aviator II

Aviator II
1941
Etching,
26 x 14 cm
Fine Art Museums
San Francisco, CA, US

 

1941 36

PaJaMa photos from Fire Island. The in-group usually stayed in town of Saltaire, Fire Island.

US enters World War II. Cadmus is classified 4F (unsuitable for service) because of a prior hernia.

Picture of George Tichenor as The Aviator (above). George works as a "laboratory technician" for George Platt Lynes and models for Cadmus. George is refused for service in the US but goes to Britain and volunteers anyway.

Pictures of Lincoln Kirstine's ballet dancers.

PaJaMa: [photo] Clinton NJ:
Jared French

Clinton NJ:
Jared French

Photo by Paul Cadmus

1942 37

The show:American Realists and Magic Realists at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, curated by Lincoln Kirstein, who is Cadmus' brother-in-law

George Tichenor killed in the war at Bir Mascheim, he was an ambulance driver with the British Forces.

 
1943 38

Correspondence begins with E M Forester. Cadmus has admired his writing for several years.

Cadmus uses egg yoke tempera to do a series of Fire Island paintings (see the three pictures after the ballet pictures below).

George Platt Lynes has an affair with Jonathan Tichenor and leaves Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescott.

 
1944 39

George Tooker (age 24) meets Cadmus at the Art Students League.

Cadmus paints Jonathan Tichenor as The Survivor (the last picture in this gallery).

 

 

Cadmus,Paul: Arabesque

Arabesque
1941
Egg tempera on pressed wood panel,
7 x 6¾ in
Museum of Art and Science
Evansville, IL, US

Cadmus,Paul: Reflection

Reflection
1944
Egg tempera on pressed wood panel,
16¾ x 19 in
Private Collection

Cadmus,Paul: The Shower

The Shower
1943
Egg tempera on pressed wood panel,
15¼ x 15½ in
Collection of John P Axelrod

Cadmus,Paul: Point O'View

Point O'View
1945
Egg tempera on pressed wood panel,
19 x 15 in
Museum of Art, Williams College
Williamstown, MA, US

Cadmus,Paul: Fences

Fences
1946
Egg tempera on pressed wood panel,
11 x 9¾ in
Private Collection

 

Cadmus,Paul: Survivor

Survivor
1944
Egg tempera on pressed wood panel,
7¾ x 8½ in
Collection: Robert E White

 

 

More Cadmus pictures and the biography continues after WWII.

More Cadmus pictures and more biography during the Cold War

 

 

 


Post WW II
North American Art

2004-09-27