Sex, lies, and photographs: Letters from George Platt Lynes
Thompson, William Richard
Master of Arts
In the fall of 1952, George Platt Lynes created one of his most memorable photographs: the image of two nude men--one black, one white--reclining in an intimate embrace. Lynes titled the print Man in His Element, but due to its overt homoeroticism and interracial content he could not show it in public. Instead, Lynes privately distributed the photograph and its variants through the mail and told the story of their creation in letters to a close friend. Lynes's letters were an integral part of his artistic and voyeuristic activities. Through writing Lynes framed the ambivalent racial coding of Man in His Element and its variants, and in doing so, he asserted his authority as a white, socially privileged man. Lynes's writings also functioned as a form of confessional discourse which enabled the photographer to document and speak the truth about his marginalized sexual identity and artistic production.
Biographies; Black studies; Fine arts; Art history