Study of a Male Model Carrying a Box on his Shoulder
Black crayon on cream wove paper
11 x 8½ in(27.94 x 21.59 cm)(sheet size)
Paul Cadmus (1904-1999) was born in New York City and traveled throughout Europe before settling back in the US, in New York and Connecticut. The present work likely was produced in the 1930s and unlike most of Cadmus’ drawings of male models, does not feature an Adonis-like beautiful male body, but an aged, slightly pudgy one, who seems to be laboring. It was likely made during his time working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal initiative employing artists to create public projects. Cadmus caused a scandal by his mural “The Fleet’s In!”, which featured carousing sailors, homosexual solicitation and erotic exaggeration of clinging pants and bulging crotches. In this way, it anticipated the campy aesthetics of Tom of Finland.
Cadmus is known for his caricaturist depictions of social activity in urban settings and fine, realistic depictions of single nude male models. He employed Renaissance-level draftsmanship to depict the life of the streets and to express homoerotic desire.
Cadmus was part of PaJaMa and in the “Young and Evil” group of artists that included Pavel Tchelitchew.
Swann Auction Galleries, Sale 2557 The Artists of the WPA, February 4, 2021, Lot 197
PaJaMa, Paul Cadmus, (c. 1940s)
Paul Cadmus in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art
Paul Cadmus in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Paul Cadmus in the collection of the MoMA
Paul Cadmus in the collection of the LACMA
Bryan Martin, “Paul Cadmus and the Censorship of Queer Art,” Metropolitan Museum of Art Perspectives, June 25, 2021
“The Young and Evil,” David Zwirner, New York, 21 February – 13 April, 2019
“Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern,” The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 17 March – 15 June 2019
“Transmissions,” organized by Nick Mauss, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 6 March – 14 May 2018