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Two Boys on a Beach No.1 and more art by Paul Cadmus

Two Boys on a Beach No.1, 1938
25 x 27 cm (h x w)
etching on paper
not for sale
[Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Gift of the Des Moines Art Center Print Club, 2008.26]

(Gift Print, 2008)

Born in New York, Paul Cadmus studied at the National Academy of Design where he fell in love with Italian Renaissance art. He also studied at the Art Students League and worked as an illustrator. From 1931 to 1933, Cadmus lived in Majorca, off the coast of Spain. By 1934 he was back in New York where he found employment with the federal PWAP (Public Works of Art) artists’ relief project. Cadmus achieved instant notoriety when his painting depicting the American sailors on leave consorting with prostitutes and a gay man was included in, then banished from, a WPA exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC. Throughout his career, Cadmus, one of the first modern artists to depict openly gay life, exhibited paintings and etchings that provoked public outrage against their social, political and forthright erotic content.

Drawn and etched with an old master-like command of line and form, Cadmus’ etching, Two Boys on a Beach, 1938, depicts languid two young men resting in the aftermath of an erotic encounter. One of the youths holds an apple, the age-old symbol of temptation.



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