Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Gilding the Acrobats

Artist:
Paul Cadmus (American, New York 1904–1999 Weston, Connecticut)
Date:
1935
Medium:
Tempera and oil on Masonite
Dimensions:
36 3/4 × 18 3/8 in. (93.3 × 46.7 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1950
Accession Number:
50.94.3
Rights and Reproduction:
© Estate of Paul Cadmus/ VAGA, NY
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 913
A renowned satirist, Cadmus was one of the most accomplished draftsmen of the twentieth century. Featuring a circus acrobat who, with help from two companions, covers his muscular body with gold radiator paint, Gilding the Acrobats reenacts literally the experience of painting the figure with thinly veiled homoeroticism. In an era when homosexual behavior was criminalized and homoerotic imagery was intensely policed, gay artists like Cadmus and Richmond Barthé turned frequently to circus performers and athletes as the few socially permissible subjects that offered the opportunity to lavish attention on the male body.
Inscription: Signed (lower left): Cadmus
[Midtown Galleries, New York, by 1937–at least 1944]; Encyclopædia Britannica (by 1945–50; sold to MMA)

New York. Midtown Galleries. "Paul Cadmus," March 22–April 10, 1937, brochure no. 8 (dated 1935).

San Francisco. Golden Gate International Exposition. "Contemporary Art," February 18–October 29, 1939, no. 61 (lent by Midtown Galleries, New York City).

Cleveland Museum of Art. "The Sixteenth Exhibition of Contemporary Oils," June 13–July 14, 1940, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Contemporary Painting in the United States," April 19–27, 1941, no. 28 (lent by the artist).

Mexico City. Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes. "La Pintura Contemporánea Norteamericana," June 12–July 9, 1941, unnumbered cat. (p. 34; dated 1936, lent by Midtown Galleries).

Santiago. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. "La Pintura Contemporánea Norteamericana," September 6–October 5, 1941, unnumbered cat.

Lima. Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes. "La Pintura Contemporánea Norteamericana," November 5–30, 1941, unnumbered cat.

Quito. Universidad Central de Ecuador. "La Pintura Contemporánea Norteamericana," December 1941, unnumbered cat.

City Art Museum of Saint Louis. "The 37th Annual Exhibition: American Painting of Today," February 5–March 13, 1944, no. 13 (dated 1936; lent by the Midtown Gallery, New York).

Art Institute of Chicago. "Encyclopaedia Britannica Collection of Contemporary American Painting," April 12–May 13, 1945, no. 18.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "20th Century Painters: A Special Exhibition of Oils, Water Colors and Drawings Selected from the Collections of American Art in the Metropolitan Museum," June 16–October 29, 1950, unnum. brochure.

Davenport, Iowa. Davenport Municipal Art Gallery. April 1–22, 1951.

South Bend, Indiana. South Bend Art Association. May 6–27, 1951.

Philadelphia Art Alliance. "Art and the Circus," closed June 17, 1956, brochure no. 96.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art. "All About the Circus: Variations on a Theme by Artists of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries," August 4–30, 1959, no. 11.

San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor. "All About the Circus: Variations on a Theme by Artists of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries," September 12–October 12, 1959, no. 11.

Hempstead, N. Y. Emily Lowe Gallery, Hofstra University. "The Male Nude," November 1–December 12, 1973, no. 36.

New York Cultural Center. "Three Centuries of the American Nude," May 9–July 13, 1975, no. 76.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Three Centuries of the American Nude," August 6–September 21, 1975, no. 76.

University of Houston Fine Art Center. "Three Centuries of the American Nude," October 3–November 16,1975, no. 76.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Tribute to a Curator: Robert Beverly Hale," November 16, 1978–March 4, 1979, unnum. checklist.

Oxford, Ohio. Miami University Art Museum. "Paul Cadmus: Yesterday and Today," September 12–October 25, 1981, no. 11.

Storrs. William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut. "Paul Cadmus: Yesterday and Today," March 20–May 2, 1982, no. 11.

Grace Pagano. The Encyclopædia Britannica Collection of Contemporary American Painting. Ed. Grace Pagano. Chicago, 1946, unpaginated, pl. 18.

Philip Eliasoph. Paul Cadmus: Yesterday and Today. Exh. cat., Miami University Art Museum. Oxford, Oh., 1981, pp. 24, 46, no. 11, fig. 19 and ill. p. 46.

Lincoln Kirstein. Paul Cadmus. New York, 1992, pp. 28, 133, ill. p. 31 (color).

Richard Meyer. Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art. New York, 2002, pp. 32, 34, 37, 72–76, 78–79, 81–86, 88, 93, 296 nn. 4, 9, 11, p. 306 n. 120, p. 308 nn. 131–34, figs. 2.1, 2.2, 2.32 (color), 2.39 (color detail), 2.41 (color detail), 2.45 (color detail).



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