The Male Nudes


“The depth and commitment he had in photographing the male nude, from the start of his career to the end, was astonishing. There was absolutely no commercial impulse involved — he couldn’t exhibit it, he couldn’t publish it.”

Allen Ellenzweig, art and photography critic who wrote the introduction to George Platt Lynes: The Male Nudes, published in 2011 by Rizzoli.

 
 

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During his lifetime, George Platt Lynes amassed a substantial body of work involving nude and homoerotic photography. In the 1930s, he began taking nudes of friends, performers and models, including a young Yul Brynner, and author Tennessee Williams although these remained private, unknown and unpublished for years. Over the following two decades, Lynes continued his work in this area passionately, albeit privately. In the late 1940s, Lynes became acquainted with Dr. Alfred Kinsey and his Institute in Bloomington, Indiana. Kinsey took an interest in Lynes work, as he was researching homosexuality in America at the time.

By May 1955, when Lynes had been diagnosed terminally ill with lung cancer, he closed his studio and destroyed much of his print and negative archives, particularly his male nudes. However, it is now known that he had transferred many of these works to the Kinsey Institute. “He clearly was concerned that this work, which he considered his greatest achievement as a photographer, should not be dispersed or destroyed…We have to remember the time period we’re talking about—America during the post-war Red Scare…” The body of work residing at the Kinsey Institute remained largely unknown until it was made public and published in 2011. The Kinsey collection represents one of the largest single collections of Lynes’s work.

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