Title: Two Boys on a Beach
Etching and drypoint on laid paper
Dimensions: Image: 5 1/8 x 7 1/8 inches (13 x 18.1 cm);
Sheet: 10 1/4 x 15 5/8 inches (26 x 39.7 cm)
Bequest of David B. Goodstein, Class of 1954
Object Number: 86.030.018
Working in early twentieth-century New York, Paul Cadmus captured the subcultures of the city’s working class. This image depicts a pair of men lounging on the beach. The scene on the whole is relaxed and isolated, the landscape clear of any other figures or evidence of their presence. The homosexual undertones of the work are undeniably explicit: the front man’s shirt is tattered and his pants are falling down while the man in back lying down is totally exposed. Through this overt implication Cadmus highlights the public attitude of tolerance toward homosexuality in interwar America except when affection was explicit and overt. This mindset pervaded until the 1950s and McCarthyism, during and after which anything suggesting homosexuality was condemned. Cadmus’s image provides a record for a queer culture that has partially faded from the public consciousness in a post-Stonewall world. ("Imprint/ In Print," curated by Nancy E. Green with assistance from Christian Waibel '17 and presented at the Johnson Museum August 8 - December 20, 2015)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.