Photography by George Platt Lynes
In the 1930’s and 40’s, George Platt Lynes was the best-known fashion and portrait photographer in the U.S. He was also producing an abundance of male nudes that he circulated among friends and occasionally published in the Swiss homosexual magazine “Der Kreis” under the pseudonyms Roberto Rolf and Robert Orville. Over time, the male nudes became his most valuable artistic endeavor.
The photographs we have come to associate with Lynes are often his highly staged studio images, which he crafted with exacting control over the smallest detail. These images display his inventive use of diffused lighting that seems to come from everywhere and yet from nowhere. Idealized and perfected, bodies and faces are wrapped in light and shadows, their contours defined with precision by the spaces around them.
Lynes began a friendship with Dr Alfred Kinsey of the Kinsey Institute in Bloomington, Indiana and helped with his sex research. Between the years 1949 to 1955, Lynes sold and donated much of his erotic nudes to Kinsey. By May 1955, Lynes had been diagnosed terminally ill with lung cancer. He closed his studio and destroyed much of his print and negative archives, particularly his male nudes. It is now known that he had transferred many of these works to the Kinsey Institute. After a final trip to Europe, Lynes returned to New York City where he died on December 6, 1955.