Gilding the Acrobats

Paul Cadmus American

Not on view

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.

Gilding the Acrobats, Paul Cadmus (American, New York 1904–1999 Weston, Connecticut), Tempera and oil on Masonite

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.