Naked Men : Pioneering Male Nudes 1935-1955

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9780789300799: Naked Men : Pioneering Male Nudes 1935-1955

This extraordinary book documents a fascinating moment in the history of American culture--a period in the 1930's, 40's, and 50's that gave birth to new notions of male beauty and desire, and to a new type of male icon. Long before Stonewall and the gay pride movement, there was a small group of daring men--both photographers and the models who sat for them--who helped pave the way for male sexual liberation. Led by the photographer George Platt Lynes, the painter Paul Cadmus, and the arts patron Lincoln Kirstein, this group shattered taboos surrounding the artistic presentation of the male figure. The young subjects of these photographs--who often posed after-hours in studios officially used for fashion shoots--were in essence the first true male models. In a perfect complement to the intimacy of these early nudes, photographs are included of these men today. The pictures and stories in Naked Men are as relevant and evocative today as they were a half a century ago.

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Review:

The male nude has been a staple of art since the Greeks graced their public buildings with the glorified forms of gods and heroes. Renaissance artists didn't hesitate to display the male form, particularly in churches; the past 100 years of photography have seen a resurgence of the male nude. Nonetheless, until now there's been very little critical analysis of these nudes' homoerotic content. In his Lambda Award-winning Naked Men: Pioneering Male Nudes 1935-1955, David Leddick uses intensive research, interviews, and photographic representations to uncover sources and inspirations for the male nude through 20 years of contemporary art. Relying on the words and visual work of hundreds of artists, models, and writers (including George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, Tennessee Williams, and Gore Vidal), Leddick conjures up the images, history, and social context of the mid-20th-century homoerotic nude. Filled with photos and reproductions, Naked Men shows us how gay sensibilities and gay culture have freed the male body from social restraints in both art and everyday life. Leddick's The Male Nude, while not strictly a companion volume, does similar work, detailing more than a century of male nudes. As with Naked Men, this book is lavishly and beautifully illustrated. Both are important documents of gay male history and culture. --Michael Bronski

About the Author:

David Leddick began his career as a dancer at the Metropolitan Opera of New York and subsequently worked as a creative director for Revlon and L'Oréal advertising. He is currently an advertising consultant. His first novel, My Worst Date, was published in 1996. He divides his time between Paris and Miami Beach.

Ethan Winslow took the contemporary portraits of the living models for this book. A photographer and writer who has lived in England, New Guinea, Ireland, and the United States, Winslow currently resides in Baltimore and has just completed his first novel.

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Leddick, David
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Leddick, David
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