Paul Cadmus

Paul Cadmus

Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 12 Dec 1999 (aged 94)
Weston, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
Burial New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA
Plot 41 Magnolia Ave., East
Memorial ID 210546296 View Source
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Jon Anderson is buried in Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut, with Paul Cadmus. The location of their graves is 41 Magnolia Ave., East (the cemetery has street addresses for each family lot).
Contributor: Sandra Markham (47531629)An American artist noted for his provocative male nudes.

A native of New York City, Cadmus was born on December 17, 1904, and grew up on the Upper West Side, near Amsterdam Avenue and 103rd Street. Both parents were artistically gifted: his father was an commercial lithographer who created advertising images, and his mother had illustrated children's books, but the family which included his younger sister Fidelma, was quite poor.

At age 14 Cadmus enrolled in art classes at the National Academy. He spent six years at the Academy, winning several student awards and scholarship prize money during his time there, before moving on to classes at the Art Students League of New York City for another two years. He and a classmate Jared French spent several years abroad.

In 1934 he painted The Fleet's In! while working for the Public Works of Art Project of the WPA. This painting, featuring carousing sailors, women, and a homosexual couple, was the subject of a public outcry and was removed from exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery. The publicity helped to launch his career.

Until the late 1980s Cadmus produced one or two paintings a year, working in his later years out of a skylit studio at his home in Connecticut. The house had been a gift from Lincoln Kirstein, who was married to Cadmus's sister, Fidelma. Kirstein was general director of the New York City Ballet, and was one of a roster of eminent friends Cadmus accrued over the years, such as fellow ballet luminary George Balanchine and the writers E. M. Forster, W. H. Auden, and Christopher Isherwood.

Interest in Cadmus's work was renewed in the early 1980s when The Fleet's In! finally went on public display, first at a Miami museum and then in a retrospective of his work that toured several cities. He was unaware of what had happened to the painting after Admiral Rodman had it removed from the Corcoran. It turned out that when Henry L. Roosevelt died in 1936, he bequeathed the painting to the Alibi Club, a private men's club in Washington, D.C. It hung there for years, unbeknownst to Cadmus, until a graduate student who was writing a dissertation on the work successfully challenged the club to give it up. Philip Eliasoph, later the author of a book on Cadmus, argued that the work had been painted with taxpayer money—Cadmus was receiving his stipend from the Public Works of Art Project at the time—and therefore should be available to the public, not restricted to members of an exclusive private club.

Beginning in the late 1960s Cadmus lived with his partner, Jon Andersson, a former cabaret singer who appeared in many of his later paintings. Cadmus died a few days shy of his 95th birthday on December 12, 1999, in Weston, the Connecticut town where they had lived since 1975. In the lengthy oral history transcribed for Archives of American Art, Cadmus told Tully that after 50 years as a painter, he was happy with the trajectory of his career, though he had never achieved lasting fame or a consensus of critical appreciation. He quoted a line from one of his favorite painters, the French neoclassicist Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780–1867): "'People say my paintings are not right for the times' or something like that," Cadmus recalled.

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