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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cadmus In Cadmium

Paul Cadmus 1904-1999. He died five days before his 95th birthday. He was the most outrageous and overlooked artist of his time.

1. Shore Leave (1933) - Sailors spending their leisure time drunkenly chasing girls instead of helping little old ladies cross the street. "Secretary of the Navy Swanson said, 'the painting represents a most disgraceful, sordid, disreputable, drunken brawl, wherein apparently a number of enlisted men are consorting with a party of street-walkers and denizens of the red light district. This is an unwarranted insult, and evidently originated in the sordid, depraved imagination of someone who has no conception of actual conditions in our service" - Time Magazine, 1934.

2. YMCA Locker Room (1933) - Guys in a locker room in various stages of undress (mostly nekkid) primping and checking each other out.

3. The Fleet's In! (1934) - More gobs drunkenly cutting up with torn-up hookers. "As opponents of censorship we cannot condone Admiral Hugh Rodman's burst of indignation at the striking canvas, 'The Fleet's In!' by Paul Cadmus. Admiral Rodman has had a long and distinguished career as a sailor. That does not make him an art critic. The PWAP show is an art exhibition, not an enlistment bureau for the Navy" - Washington Post, 1934.

4. Greenwich Village Cafeteria (1934) - Hipsters cram their faces with food like wild animals and pick each others pockets. "Something of the bitterness which every unemployed artist feels is evident in this painting entitled 'Greenwich Village Cafeteria' by Paul Cadmus of New York City" - New York Herald Tribune, 1934.

5. Gilding The Acrobats (1935) - a jughead-hat wearin' black kid slops gold paint all over a bitter-lookin' naked circus acrobat.

6. Venus And Adonis (1936) - A blown-out rich dowager desperately clings to a statuesque Gregory Peck-looking tennis player, who's classically naked of course.

7. Seeing The New Year In (1939) - A portrait of a party that's gone on way too long, chicks passed out while sleazy guys undress them passed out, nuzzle them, and there's even a guy in the background putting the make on another guy (!). "The painting doesn't have the air of fantasy. There is a cold, hard restlessness in the drawing that suggests that the artist has been determined to give you the facts and nothing but the facts, but at the same time the artist's complete absorption in every inch of wickedness in the picture attests too great an interest in wickedness for its own sake" - New York Sun, 1939.

8. Sailors and Floozies (1938) - This time the tables are turned: our fightin' heroes are all passed out cold, and the prostitutes, looking manly, suggesting transvestitism, are going through their pockets. A crumpled newspaper on the ground bears the headline, "1000 Killed In Air Raid". The sun is bleakly setting. "Paul Cadmus is on another red-hot naval rampage...painting with brilliant finesse a theme doused in indecency!" - New York Post, 1938.

9. Herrin Massacre (1940) - Strike-breakers are depicted beaten to death by labor union activists in a cemetery, the dead are left bloodied, broken and naked. "Just gory journalism" - Journal American, 1940.

10. The Shower (1943), Point O' View (1945), and Fences (1946) - Male nudes on the beach with dark, midnight lighting. "The Shower was sold before it settled on the hook waiting for hanging. His dealer's main problem is not how to sell the next Cadmus, but how not to play favorites" - Art Digest (1943).

11. Playground (1948) - Tenement boys hanging around the New York playground aimlessly looking around waiting for something to happen.

12. Finistere (1952) - Boys in Euro bikinis hanging out on bikes in beach-side Italy. One even brandishes a big Italian bread!

Discover the art of Paul Cadmus. Audasse, audasse, toujours l'audasse. Audacity, audacity, audacity always!

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