Public Art, Private Expression

Why do so many public murals seem to have a homoerotic tone?

BY Christopher Harrity

July 20 2013 3:00 AM ET


Paul Cadmus, Pocahontas Rescuing Captain John Smith, 1939
Some of the New Deal WPA painters found that their expressions clashed with local tastes, particularly when murals portrayed American society, past and present, in a critical light. In the case of this mural for Richmond’s Parcel Post Building by Paul Cadmus, titled Pocahontas Rescuing Captain John Smith, it was male nudity that roused concern. Although Pocahontas’s breast remained bared, along with the foreground Indian brave’s buttocks, Cadmus had to retouch a suggestive foxhead that he had mischievously placed over another brave’s groin. Source: historymatters.gmu.edu/d/6703/

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Tags: Art

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