Posted by boyblue on December 27, 1999 at 14:24:57:
In Reply to: cadmus's achievement posted by richard meyer on December 01, 1998 at 00:09:39:
: i curated a small show at the whitney museum in the summer of 1996 entitled "Paul Cadmus: The Sailor Trilogy" that reunited Cadmus' three marvelously satirical sailor paintings from the 1930s--Shore Leave, The Fleet's In!, and Sailors and Floosies. I'm wondering, first, if anyone out there saw it and second, how others think Cadmus' place in gay history and culture might best be understood. What has Cadmus's work meant to you or other gay men you know? By the way, I think Steven Jenkins did a marvelous job of curating this virtual exhibition and only hope that a full-scale museum retrospective of cadmus' work will follow soon.
Can it have been a year since I've been here? Time flies no matter what one is doing and Cadmus, alas, has departed since I was last here. I don't think there's much doubt but what his work will have continued importance in any serious historical treatment of gay art of the twentieth century.
I enjoy his work and will continue to do so, but I still don't regard it as art of the first order. It is not far removed from the art of Breker and the social realists it seems to me although he is working from an obviously more different and honest perspective. He does have the satirical element in his work, but even his satire is adoring of the male sexual icon and overly so in my opinion. He seems to be incapable of painting the young male as anything but a sexual object. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't make for first rate art when all is said and done. The painting become classy decoration, not first rate art. I don't see any of his paintings that I think move into the realm of true art of the first order. Some of his etchings come closer, but even they ultimately miss. Still and all, Cadmus is going to be the center of all kinds of arguments and debates among gay writers and critics for years to come, perhaps moreso than just about any other gay artist...and a gay artist is what he is purely and simply...and for that he is worth knowing about and studying. He's fun to not only look but to study and there's something to be said for that.
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