Ok, it’s time to learn about artist Paul Cadmus.
Paul Cadmus (1904-1999) was destined to study at The League. His father, a commercial lithographer, had studied with painting instructor Robert Henri. It was at The League were he met and formed an intimate relationship with artist Jared French and a platonic friendship with French’s wife, Margaret French.
This trio of friends were known as PaJaMa (Paul, Jared, Margaret) and were seemingly inseparable. They influenced each other in their aesthetics along with future painting star George Tooker, whom they also met at The League.
Working for the WPA in 1934, Cadmus created a mural for the U.S. Navy which caused a national, headline-grabbing scandal! It depicted inebriated sailors with prostitutes and, in the background, a sailor flirting with a gay man. Such striking imagery had never been fathomed in public and was ordered by the Secretary of the Navy to be removed before the public exhibition.
Cadmus considered this portrait, titled simple “Jerry,” his “first mature work as an artist.” It’s a portrait of Jared French, painted shortly upon returning from their time in Europe together. “At the time Jerry was painted, French and Cadmus were lovers, and the two would maintain a relationship and friendship that lasted the rest of their lives,” even after French was married to Margaret in 1937.