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Monday, 15 April 2013

George Platt Lynes (1907 - 1955)

b. 15 April 1907
d. 6 December 1955

American photographer George Platt Lynes became one of the US's most successful fashion and portrait photographers, but his greatest work may have been his intensely homoerotic dance images and male nudes.

He made his first trip to France in 1925. There he met Gertrude Stein, as well as such luminaries as Jean Cocteau and Pavel Tchelitchev, and two young Americans, Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescott. The latter were to become his close friends and lovers.

Lynes made a second journey to France in 1928, this time traveling with Westcott and Wheeler, both well known in the literary and avant-garde circles of expatriate France. It was at this time that Lynes began to take portraits of the many celebrities he met.

He eventually photographed Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Colette, Dorothy Parker, E. M. Forster, Tennessee Williams, Christopher Isherwood, Aldous Huxley, W. Somerset Maugham, Marsden Hartley, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, among many others.
Upon returning to New York he began to work as a fashion photographer and lived with Wheeler and Wescott in a ménage à trois.

Although Lynes had achieved early fame as a commercial photographer, he also gained a wide reputation for his dance images.

In addition to photographing dancers in the 1930s and 1940s, Lynes also photographed several series of male nudes. These photographs frequently depict mythological figures, utilize theatrical lighting, feature symbolic tableaux or props, and are nearly always frankly homoerotic in their appeal.

Given the state of censorship at this time, it is not surprising that Lynes never published these photographs. Instead, he restricted their circulation to friends and admirers. Nevertheless, he considered these private photographs his most significant work, a judgment in which some later critics have concurred.

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