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George Quaintance’s Photos In Paris’ Exhibition

by Editorial Staff in Events & Agenda , 22 April 2009

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Paris gallery Au Bonheur du Jour exhibits photos by the American artist George Quaintance (1902-1957) until the 2nd of May. Quaintance, born on the June 2, 1902 in the countryside of Page County, Virginia, is nowadays mainly known for his almost sixty homoerotic paintings, but he also worked as a photographer. To be honest, he had more careers than a cat has lives.

He was a dancer, trained in classical ballet, tap-dance and tango, he was a very popular hairdresser in the thirties, designing outrageous hairdos for Gloria Swanson, Jeanette MacDonald, Helen Hayes, soprano Lily Pons and many other Hollywood stars as well New York socialites. Before he focused on the masculine beauty he was already quite famous as a portrait artist of the rich and famous. He added photography to the list of his skills by taking lessons with Edwin Townsend (famous for his nude portraits from the twenties and thirties of bodybuilder Tony Sansone) and Physique pioneer Lon Hanagan (Lon of New York).

Painting was his first passion however. In 1920 he moved to New York to study at the prestigious Art Student League. From his teenage years Quaintance was clearly gay, although it was still necessary to remain very discrete about your sexual preference in those years. In 1938 he met the attractive young Puerto Rican Victor Garcia, who became his muse as well as his life partner and business associate. Their relationship was not exclusive because several swarthy South American gentlemen passed by as lovers and models.

After the Second World War, Quaintance started his gay erotic work that would make him most famous. He drew the cover illustration of the very first issue of Bob Mizer’s innovative “Physique Pictorial” in 1951 and soon he published his work in other magazines like “Grecian Guild Pictorial,” “Adonis,” “Demi-Gods” and “Young Physique.” In 1954 his photos and prints of his paintings appeared in the Swiss magazine “Der Kreis,” one of the first magazines to openly aim for a gay audience.

Although Bob Mizer wrote, when Quaintance died of a heart attack in 1957, that “throughout the world, he has been acclaimed as a trailblazer of a culture which has been almost ignored for twenty centuries,” his work didn’t really get the attention it deserves. (A monograph with his paintings reproduced in black & white excluded.) So it is very appropriate for Au Bonheur du Jour to pay attention to his photographic work. Let’s hope that a sumptuous photo book and biography will follow soon.

Au Bonheur du Jour
11 rue Chabanais
75002 Paris



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