George Quaintance was not and is NSFW. An artist ahead of his time, he was a man who forged several successful careers, yet he never enjoyed what we would call today, “mainstream fame”. Had he been born a few decades later, we might know him today as a multi-tasking celebrity stylist, a Dancing with the Stars judge, or maybe the fine artist he always wanted to be. Quaintance, who died in 1957, lived in an era when homosexuality was repressed, and his joyful, sexy paintings and physique photos couldn’t EVER depict a penis (but he showed lots of ass!) Before Stonewall, the sexual revolution, gay rights and the AIDS crisis, Quaintance and his stylized and erotic art existed in a borderline legality. Half a century later, the masculine fantasy world created by Quaintance, with his Latin lovers, lusty cowboys and chiseled ranch hands, still holds its allure. His highly prized paintings — numbering just 55 in total — rarely come up for auction, instead selling privately for undisclosed sums. As one of the preeminent “male physique” artists of the 40s and early 50s, his work for Physique Pictorial, Demi-Gods and Body Beautiful inspired a generation of artists like Tom of Finland, Harry Bush and Etienne. Raised on a farm in Virginia, Quaintance, was a Vaudeville dancer, the favored portraitist of Washington’s smart set, and a celebrity hair designer — though he never actually touched hair. Taschen’s new book, Quantaince, traces this remarkable life and splashes out his colorful paintings for all the world to see. You can get it here.
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