Elspeth Brown, University of Toronto and Kathleen Spies, Birmingham-Southern College

Center for American History and Culture Programs
American Art and Visual Culture Seminar
Friday, November 15, 2013

2 pm to 5 pm

B-84

“ ‘The Amorous Regard’: George Platt Lynes and the Queering of Fashion Photography”
Elspeth Brown, University of Toronto

This paper explores the queer production of 1930s/1940s glamour through an examination of the later work of photographer George Platt Lynes (1907-1955). The paper examines two areas of Lynes’ work: his fashion images for Conde Nast and his gay male nudes, which he circulated privately. I argue that the gay nudes are the shadow archive for Lynes’ fashion work, and show how Lynes’ immersion in mid-20th century homosex cruising cultures provided the affective and visual vocabulary for his fashion photography.

“The Showgirl and the City: Defining the Modern Metropolis in the Art of Walt Kuhn”
Kathleen Spies, Birmingham-Southern College

This paper examines the metonymic link between the showgirl and the urban environment in Walt Kuhn’s art, particularly in his 1919 painting The City. What can this work tell us about interwar American attitudes toward women and the urban space? How might have it enabled Kuhn to work out concepts of his own identity – as an artist, an individual and a man – given the challenges of life in the modern metropolis? Finally, this study considers Kuhn’s intentionally vulgar style and subject in the context of concurrent debates over modernism and the quest for a true American art.

Commentator: Debra Mancoff, Independent Scholar

Cost and registration information: 

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, email the Scholl Center at scholl@newberry.org.  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.