Golden Iris Awards

George Platt Lynes: Golden Iris Winner for Photo Book of the Year

By: Michael Matson

Twentieth century master of photography George Platt Lynes has become known for his male nudes as much as he is for his early fashion work for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, or his portraits of cultural icons such as Diana Vreeland, Salvador Dali, and Orson Welles. But after turning over all of his of his homoerotic prints and negatives to Alfred Kinsey shortly before his death in 1955, the majority of this work remained unseen.

Art historian and book editor Steven Haas was able to change that by getting permission from both the Kinsey Institute and the artist’s estate to debut many of the photos in public for the first time in George Platt Lynes: The Male Nudes. It's a fascinating look into Lynes’ artistic process, featuring both favorite images and rejected prints. It also serves as a revealing document of homosexuality in mid-century America, showcasing dancers, athletes, servicemen and swimmers in every imaginable scenario; from poses inspired by Greek mythology to graphic images showing various states of arousal. One of the most interesting aspects of the late photographer's homoerotic work is the inclusion of many African-American models—some engaged in interracial coupling—all photographed prior to Brown v. The Board of Education. And Haas is to be commended for creating not only one of the definitive examinations of Lynes’ work, but also one of the best history of photography books in years.