George Quaintance’s overly generous paintings and photography helped thrust the male physique into American popular culture.
Born to a Virginian family in 1902, Quaintance fled to New York in 1920. While in the Big Apple, Quaintance studied painting at Art Students League. Upon graduation, however, the famously handsome man diverted his talents toward dancing. Not content with one artistic outlet, Quaintance also spent energy inventing new hair styles, many of which became quite popular in the late 1930s.
It’s during this period that Quaintance moved back to Virginia and lived with his long-time lover, Victor Garcia. The men were together until Quaintance’s 1957 death, although George apparently had a wandering eye, among other things.
Perhaps Garcia – who apparently also turned heads – helped steer Quaintance down the “beef cake” path. Regardless of his inspiration, the multi-talented Quaintance took up photography and shot some his time’s greatest beauties. Photography, however, only served part of Quaintance’s purpose. He wanted to illustrate idyllic, distinctly American scenes.
Yes, Quaintance’s images count as campy, but they’re also tomes to his era’s ideals of masculinity. He offers us a view of a long extinct version of the American male – and, we’re sure, fueled many a 50’s era fagling’s fantasies.
Images: Spartan Soldiers Bathing, After The Storm, Morning In The Desert, Manolo, Siesta and Saturday Night
For more on Quaintance, check out his eponymous, posthumous website, Erotic Art Collection and GLBTQ, possibly the best queer resource on the web.