Cadmus, Paul

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Cadmus, Paul

Paul Cadmus, 1904–99, American painter, b. N.Y.C.; studied National Academy of Design (1919–26), Art Students' League (1928). From 1933–35 he and painter Jared French traveled to Europe, where he learned the egg-tempera technique later used in many of his paintings. A figurative artist, he painted in a vivid style sometimes dubbed magic realism. Cadmus first came to wide public attention when his painting The Fleet's In (1934), an illustrationlike frieze of lubricious sailors flirting with prostitutes and a gay man, was removed from a Corcoran Gallery exhibition by a U.S. Navy admiral who found the work "depraved." Thereafter, crowds flocked to his exhibitions. Cadmus became known for lively group scenes, often sexually-charged or homoerotic, and for tranquil portraits, often of male nudes. Among his best-known works are Coney Island (1934), Sailors and Floosies (1938), and the Seven Deadly Sins series (1945–49). Cadmus also designed sets and costumes for the ballet Filling Station (1938), directed by his brother-in-law, Lincoln Kirstein, and was known for his drawings, prints, and photographs.

See U. E. Johnson, Paul Cadmus: Prints and Drawings (1968); P. Eliasoph, Paul Cadmus, Yesterday and Today (1981); L. Kirstein, Paul Cadmus (1984, rev. 1992, rep. 1996); G. Davenport, The Drawings of Paul Cadmus (1989); D. Leddick, Intimate Companions: A Triography of George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, Lincoln Kirstein, and Their Circle (2000).

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