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Intimate Companions: A Triography of George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, Lincoln Kirstein, and Their Circle Paperback – June 1, 2001

3.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Ars longa, Vita brevis," noted Hippocrates, but time gave art a run for its money in the decades-long careers of the artists, writers, photographers, producers and salon-keepers chronicled in Leddick's group biography of Lynes, Cadmus, Kirstein, Glenway Westcott, Monroe Wheeler, Pavel Tchelitchev, Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler. These artists--all gay men who had significant influence on the New York visual art, theatrical and literary scenes from the 1930s to the '50s--have never received the critical or biographical attention Leddick believes they deserve. In a fresh approach to material he first covered in Naked Men: Pioneering Male Nudes (1997), Leddick charts not only the men's intersecting professional careers but how their personal and sexual lives contributed to their creativity and vision. One of his central narratives details how Kirstein drew upon the creative efforts of Lynes and Cadmus in his American Ballet Company, and how the two visual artists also pursued important careers of their own. By turns compassionate about and amused by the romantic and sexual connections among these men, Leddick is at his best when describing how Kirstein married Cadmus's sister and how Lynes became the lover of Wheeler and, later, the third member of Wheeler's "marriage" to Westcott. However, Leddick's history can be sketchy and lacks a sustained view of the artists' broader social context. Often, he mistakes personal detail--such as Westcott's distress over the size of his penis--for insight rather than gossip. Ultimately, however, Leddick makes a strong case for why his subjects remain vital and important American artists. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Photographer Platt Lynes, ballet impresario Kirstein, and painter Cadmus, who just died at the age of 94, each made important contributions to his field. Together, they were part of an ever-changing group of artistic talents and promoters who guided New York's--meaning America's--cultural development from the 1930s to the 1950s. That they and many of their colleagues were gay is one of the imprecisely developed themes here--implying some sort of proto-Lavender Mafia. Novelist Leddick came to the project after researching the subjects of photos for his Naked Men: Pioneering Male Nudes (Universe, 1997), and he has clearly undertaken much useful research, garnering candid interviews with many relatives, lesser lights, and with Cadmus himself. He seems unable to cope with the raw data, however, and inelegantly strings together facts, conjecture, and gossip in chapters that alternately focus on each participant. Never does the "circle" gel, nor is it even clear why these three figures should form the locus of this book. Recommended only for academic and large public gay studies collections as a source for further research on these important men.
-Eric Bryant, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Stonewall Inn Editions; 1st edition (June 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312271271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312271275
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,165,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John H. Flannigan on December 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
David Leddick has accomplished in this book what couldn't have been achieved by any impeccably-trained art critic or scholarly biographer: he has told the story of three vastly different but intertwined lives from the standpoint of a cultural historian who knew his subjects very well. I for one don't regret, as other reviewers have, that Leddick didn't write about the various other "menages a trois" that crop up in the world of George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, and Lincoln Kirstein. (I don't believe that the French-Cadmus or the Wheeler-Wescott-Lynes trios, for example, is particularly interesting beyond the sexually titillating.) On the other hand, the Lynes-Cadmus-Kirstein connection, to my knowledge, has not been explored in any depth at all, and Lynes especially is in need of an historical re-evaluation. Leddick does an admirable job of showing the kind of world these three men inhabited when they were at ease sexually and emotionally. Like another reviewer, I found the first-person introductions to the book's chapter divisions first-rate writing and terrific gay-history. And Leddick's evocation of Lynes, the flamboyant cement who seems to have held many of these friendships together, is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I enjoyed this book immensely.
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Format: Hardcover
In the introduction the author tells us that he is not concerned with social context but with "sexual shenanigans." This is unfortunate. The real story of these remarkable men deals with their enormous contribution to American modernist culture before World War II. Their sex lives are no more remarkable than any other bohemian group of their day and Leddick's voyeuristic obsession with bedrooms and penis size is ultimately boring to say nothing of discomforting. The endless number of sentences that include the words "must have," "I assume that they," "could have," "might have," "likely to have," shows just how many cracks there are in the factual foundation of this tawdry and disappointing book.
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By disco75 on December 29, 2015
Format: Paperback
I blame myself for the regrettable purchase of this book, having not looked into the author’s other productions. His pornographer’s eye and weak writing condemn this volume despite the worthiness of its subjects. I'm always on the lookout for any biographical focus on under-represented artists and would've welcomed a sexual biography that explored these creative men seriously. This disjointed book, however, tries the patience of even forgiving readers.

The series of short anecdotal paragraphs, too obviously from a string of index cards, leaves the book feeling like a scrapbook of Earl Wilson columns. The waspish tone of the writing and the queeny attitude might've worked in the pulpy fiction the author’s cranked out, but here it interjects too much of Leddick into the lives readers want to observe. Any art “criticism” that gives privilege to rating the physiques and facial beauty of the people in the paintings, well, clarifies where we stand in intent.

By tying the lives of these artists together Leddick depicts a milieu and thus sets a context. Anyone interested in Lynes, Cadmus, or Kirstein will want to look to other writers for more substantial considerations and a clearer separation of fact from speculation.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book because I like the work of George Platt Lynes and Paul Cadmus a lot. I also read and liked very much Mr. Leddick's first novel and own a couple of his books on male nude photography. (I have little interest in Lincoln Kirstein or ballet either.) I finished this book not having learned much about either of these two men that I cared to remember. Part of the problem is that Mr. Leddick attempts too much. He is art critic, photography critic, dance critic, literary critic as well as consummate gossip. Additionally since there are no footnotes in this book, the reader has no idea whether Leddick's conclusions about anything are his or something he gleaned from the list of sources at the back of the book. Take the opening sentence from Leddick's chapter on Katherine Anne Porter: "Katherine Anne Porter is among the most esteemed women writers of the twentieth century in America." Is that Mr. Leddick's opinion-- and what qualifies him to make such a judgment-- or the literary critics who tell us whom we should read? Incidentally, Ms. Porter comes off as a most distasteful person. Mr. Leddick paints her as homophobic although she obviously hung out with a lot of people whose lives she couldn't tolerate. He might have discussed her racism as well if he wanted to really give us a rounded view of this pretty ugly woman.
I would have preferred more insight into what made Mr. Lynes one of America's great photographers and less information and speculation as to whom he did bed or might have taken to bed. Mr. Leddick does discuss at some length many of Cadmus' paintings. Without the actual reproductions preferably in color, however, it is impossible to know whether or not this writer has a clue as to what he is discussing.
Mr.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
leddick's book about the lives and loves of lynes, cadmus and kirstein is one of the best!

it's informative, entertaining and a revelation for someone that is a fan of either new york city ballet or the beauteous photographs of george platt lynes. these men were the among the most complex men of arts in the last century. and lynes was even more complex because he was somewhat of an enigma, a self-styled court jester to the 1920 euro-american jet set and literati that got a life when he picked up a camera and began to document his contemporaries.

cadmus, by contrast, was the closest to a family man, painting a variety of portraits that documented the crazy seedy life of the west village but choosing to live a domesticated existence with his longtime partner in the countryside of upstate new york(i think, do not hold me to that).

but in addition to these lives, which leddick brings to life with humor and a economical approach to his prose, he also weaves in the stories of nycb dancers jose martinez, nicholas magallanes, frank moncion and tanaquil leclercq; other artists such as glenway westcott, leonard bernstein and monroe wheeler and the beautiful hangers-on that modelled for these men and provided characters that would become parts of novels they would write.

it's a world that various artists have tried to reconstruct and failed because of lack of talent or too many chemicals but this one time was definitely enough because it was definitely the right mix of people at the right time.
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