“George Platt Lynes was a fashion and fine art photographer from the twenties up until his death in the fifties. Privately, he produced a huge catalog of male nudes and other homoerotic works that drew from the posed nature of his fashion photos and the Surrealist demimonde in which he lived during the early part of his life. At 19, Lynes dropped out of Yale and fell in love with Monroe Wheeler, who would become famous as a small press bookmaker (he founded Harrison of Paris and went on to be deeply involved with MOMA for fifty years). Lynes moved to Paris, following in Wheeler’s footsteps, and there met Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Paul Robeson, and many other luminaries of the era. He also met Glenway Wescott, a celebrated novelist - and Wheeler’s other boyfriend. The three’s open, joyful, polyamorous relationship was public knowledge even to many of their family members at the time, and lasted for more than a decade. Like his life, much of Lynes’ homoerotic private photography presages what Mapplethorpe et al. would make public decades after his death in 1955.”
“Marsden Hartley died the year after this photograph was taken, and this portrait of the artist is full of abstract themes of death and loss, both for the subject and the photographer, George Platt Lynes.
Hartley sits slumped and exhausted, a condition heightened by his mourning the recent death of a young man to whom he was attracted in Maine. But Lynes alludes to Hartley’s earlier loss of Karl von Freyburg in World War I in the shadowy figure of the young man in uniform projected on the back wall. This memorial to lost youth had a poignant double meaning, since Lynes’s assistant, George Tichenor, to whom he was deeply and unsuccessfully attracted, had just been killed in World War II. Lynes posed an assistant-quite possibly Tichenor’s brother Jonathan—in George’s uniform as an abstract representation of the losses that shadowed both his and the aged Hartley’s lives.”