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arts

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Quaintance, George (1902-1957)  
 
page: 1  2  3  

Quaintance's work continued to be prominently featured in the American physique magazines that flowered in the wake of Bob Mizer's Physique Pictorial, including Grecian Guild Pictorial, Adonis, Olympic Arts, Demigods, Vim, and Young Physique.

All of these were thinly-disguised homoerotic publications aimed at gay men, a potentially lucrative but dangerous market. To avoid anti-gay and anti-porn laws, these magazines assumed the lofty ideal of male health and physical development.

Sponsor Message.

In 1953, Quaintance painted a series based on bull-fighting with a dark, handsome matador. The model was Angel Avila, one of several swarthy Latinos who became the artist's lover outside of his continuing relationship with his first love, Victor Garcia. In a letter to a friend dated April 27, 1953, Quaintance wrote that the paintings "were done in turmoil, in passion--I might even say in emotional agony."

This trio of paintings--Preludio, Gloria, and Moribundo--may have reflected the course of the love affair from its prelude to its physical fulfillment to its death-like ending. The paintings are among the best in the Quaintance oeuvre, rising above the almost cartoon-like depictions of cowboys and Roman slaves.

Quaintance was not one to mourn the loss of a lover for long. Soon he was enamored of a new Latino hunk and a new objet de la richesse: his single-named model, Edwardo, who posed for sculptures as well as photos and paintings. In a hasty note to a friend in May 1954, Quaintance said: "Am getting started now on some little figurines to add to the business. . . . Of course, Eddie [Edwardo] is posing for them. He is my dream-come-true."

The "Rancho Siesta" household in 1956 consisted of the artist, the gorgeous Edwardo, Victor, and Victor's new companion, Tom Syphers, a tall blond of aristocratic bearing from Utah. Another blond hunk, Ron Nyman, had joined the business firm earlier, but his name was soon scratched from the studio's letterhead.

The pace of the photo and print business became frantic. Quaintance worked night and day to complete commissions for magazines and to keep pace with mail orders for photos and prints. The artist could not survive the heavy demands placed upon him. On November 8, 1957, he suffered a heart attack and died at a Los Angeles hospital. He was 55.

In reporting Quaintance's death, Mizer described him as "a perfectionist (who) drove himself unmercifully, slaving days and nights on end (taking Benzedrine to stay awake) to finish a painting or a sculpture piece." Mizer's tribute concluded with the kind of hyperbole one might expect in a eulogy, but which recognizes the artist as a pioneer: "Throughout the world, he has been acclaimed as the trailblazer of a culture which has been almost ignored for 20 centuries."

Quaintance's legacy includes the 60-plus signature oil paintings now held in private collections and a few gay-oriented museum collections around the world. He also produced thousands of art prints, photographs, sculptures, and other original designs, including glamorized life masks of twentieth-century icons such as Marlene Dietrich. These ephemera have largely disappeared, with only a cache of salvaged prints and photographs surfacing here and there. Occasionally, a painting will pop up at public auction or prints will be offered at eBay and other online sites.

A brief obituary in Quaintance's hometown newspaper in 1957 reported that "In accordance with his request the body was cremated and no funeral services were held." Victor Garcia and Tom Syphers inherited Quaintance's estate.

John D. Waybright

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   Related Entries
  
arts >> Overview:  American Art: Gay Male, 1900-1969

Prior to Stonewall, most gay artists were closeted, but they were inventive in creating codes for those in the know; after 1945 some adventurous artists developed independent networks for the distribution of works of gay art.

arts >> Overview:  Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male

Given the historic stigma around making, circulating, and possessing overtly homoerotic images, the visual arts have been especially important for providing a socially sanctioned arena for depicting the naked male body and suggesting homoerotic desire.

arts >> Overview:  Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall

Although sparse in images documenting the gay community, pre-Stonewall gay male photography blurs the boundaries between art, erotica, and social history.

arts >> Overview:  Subjects of the Visual Arts: Nude Males

Throughout much of history, the nude male figure was virtually the only subject that could be used to articulate homoerotic desire in publicly displayed works of art, as well as those works of art intended for private "consumption."

arts >> Overview:  The Western

A distinctive American narrative genre that has developed over more than two centuries, the Western is now consumed worldwide; characteristically depicting homosocial relationships, it is also frequently suffused with homoeroticism.

arts >> Dietrich, Marlene

Actress and cabaret performer Marlene Dietrich scandalized society almost as much by wearing trousers in public as by her numerous love affairs with both men and women.

arts >> Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen)

Defiantly rejecting the invisibility, homophobia, and indignities of pre-Stonewall life, the men in Tom of Finland's drawings reflect a hyper-masculine, working-class version of homosexual manhood that proved important to the emerging gay rights movement.


    Bibliography
   

Furtado, Ken. "Arts Issue, People." Echo Magazine (August 14, 2003): 72-73.

Janssen, Volker. The Art of George Quaintance. Simon's Town, South Africa: Janssen Publishers CC, 2003.

McWaters, Terry. "The Quaintance Heritage." QQ Magazine (June 1972): 12-17.

Mizer, Bob, ed. Complete Reprint of Physique Pictorial, 1951-1964. Rpt. Cologne, Germany: Taschen, 1997.

Monteagudo, Jesse. "Physique Magazines: A History of American Male Erotica." gaytoday.badpuppy.com/garchive/reviews/072699re.htm

Quaintance, George. "Care of the Face." Your Physique--Montreal (January 1947): 24-25, 52.

_____. "Keevil Daly Holds 1947 titles 'Mr. Metropolitan' and 'Mr. New York State.'" Physique Pictorial--Montreal (September 1947): 22-23, 50.

Rettenmund, Matthew. "Striking Poses: Photographer Lon of New York and the Rebirth of Beefcake." TORSO Magazine 15 (1996): models.badpuppy.com/archive/lonofny/index.htm

Smith, Ted. "The Art of George Quaintance." In Touch for Men 76 (February 1983): 64-68.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Waybright, John D.  
    Entry Title: Quaintance, George  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated April 10, 2006  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/quaintance_g.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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