Where There Is Great Love

“There were no embraces, because where there is great love there is often little display of it.”

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Don Quixote

 
 

Paul Cadmus and Jared French. Photograph by George Platt Lynes, 1938

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The Black Stairs

DP120741Paul Cadmus Stage Set Stairs, photo by George Platt Lynes, 1937

 
 

LE NERE SCALE DELLA MIA TAVERNA

“Le nere scale della mia taverna
tu discendi tutto intriso di vento.
I bei capelli caduti tu hai sugli occhi
vivi in un mio firmamento remoto. Nella fumosa taverna
ora è l’odore del porto e del vento.
Libero vento che modella i corpi
e muove il passo ai bianchi marinai.”

 
 

THE BLACK STAIRS OF MY TAVERN

(“You descend the black stairs of
my tavern all soaked in wind
your beautiful hair fallen on your eyes
you live in a universe
so remote.
In the smoky tavern
The smell is now of the port and the wind.
The free wind that shapes bodies
and moves its step with the white sailors.”)

Sandro Penna

Afraid of Being Rushed

“Staring and staring into the mirror, it sees many faces within its face – the face of the child, the boy, the young man, the not-so-young man – all present still, preserved like fossils on superimposed layers, and, like fossils, dead. Their message to this live dying creature is: Look at us – we have died – what is there to be afraid of?

It answers them: But that happened so gradually, so easily. I’m afraid of being rushed.”

Christopher Isherwood
A Single Man

 
 

George Tooker with Paul Cadmus and Jared French in Mirror. Photo by George Platt Lynes, c.1949

Display of Brilliant Friends

Self-portraits

 
 

George Platt Lynes was an American fashion and commercial photographer. Born in East Orange, New Jersey to Adelaide (Sparkman) and Joseph Russell Lynes he spent his childhood in New Jersey but attended the Berkshire School in Massachusetts. He was sent to Paris in 1925 with the idea of better preparing him for college. His life was forever changed by the circle of friends that he would meet there. Gertrude Stein, Glenway Wescott, Monroe Wheeler and those that he met through them opened an entirely new world to the young artist.

He returned to the United States with the idea of a literary career and he even opened a bookstore in Englewood, New Jersey in 1927. He first became interested in photography not with the idea of a career, but to take photographs of his friends and display them in his bookstore.

Returning to France the next year in the company of Wescott and Wheeler, he traveled around Europe for the next several years, always with his camera at hand. He developed close friendships within a larger circle of artists including Jean Cocteau and Julien Levy, the art dealer and critic. Levy would exhibit his photographs in his gallery in New York City in 1932 and Lynes would open his studio there that same year.

By 1946, he grew disillusioned with New York and left for Hollywood, where he became chief photographer for the Vogue studios. He photographed Katharine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell, Gloria Swanson and Orson Welles, from the film industry, as well as others in the arts among them Aldous Huxley, Igor Stravinsky, and Thomas Mann. While a success artistically, it was a financial failure.

By May of 1955 he had been diagnosed terminally ill with lung cancer. He closed his studio. He destroyed much of his print and negative archives particularly his male nudes. After a final trip to Europe, Lynes returned to New York City where he died in December 1955. He was just 48.

 
 

Dorothy Parker

 
 

Jean Cocteau

 
 

Gloria Swanson

 
 

Christopher Isherwood

 
 

Yul Brynner

 
 

Tennessee Williams

 
 

Paul Cadmus

 
 

Henri Cartier-Bresson

 
 

Alfred Kinsey

 
 

Salvador Dalí