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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Surfaces and Strategies – Considering Other Photographers – George Platt Lynes


Figure 1: Lynes. Paul Cadmus. Unknown Date

Recognised as one of the masters of 20th-century photography, George Platt Lynes influenced many contemporary photographers.

From the 1930s to his death in 1955, Lynes specialised in male nude portraits.  His work was characterised by his use of lighting, inventive and creative posing and image cropping.

His images were predominantly produced in staged studio settings.  The resultant images are full of emotion and emphasise the physical appearance of the male nude.


Figure 2: Lynes. Charles Caskey. ca. 1936

Much of Lynes’s work is shot in moody, high contrast monochrome images.  The content was revolutionary and brave for the time.  Erotic photographs of the male nude were still considered taboo.  Lynes often refused to send his photographs through the post to publishers for fear of reprisals and legal action.

I really admire Lynes’s courage and vision.  His images are stunningly beautiful and have gone on to inspire so many others, including me.  His pioneering work and brave attitude towards changing views on male nudity are to be celebrated.


Figure 3: Lynes. Nude Torso (Robert L. Schafger). ca. 1954

I am drawn to the use of shapes and the sculpting lighting in his work.  His use of the male nude is quite sympathetic in the images.  Nudity is celebrated but not exploited.  I like that the penis is not objectified as the central point of the images. The connection between the model and the camera seems genuine and there is a real honesty in the gaze of some of the models.


Figure 4: Lynes. Ted Starkowski. ca. 1951


Figure 6: Lynes. Untitled (Torso, Arms Up). ca. 1950


Figure 5: Lynes. Yul Brynner. 194


Figure 1: George Platt Lynes- Art history. 2017. Fire Island Pines [online]. Available at: [accessed 22 May 2017].

Figures 2 – 6: George Platt Lynes | artnet. 2017. [online]. Available at: [accessed 22 May 2017].

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