Before the Dawn of Tom
BY Christopher Harrity
July 09 2011 4:00 AM ET
November 8, 1883 – October 23, 1935
Demuth’s most famous painting, I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold, came later in his life (1928) and aimed the arrow of modernism toward the eventual target of pop art. But before that, his early career vacillated between lush watercolors of fluid line and sensuous fleshy details to precisionist images of silos and industrial machinery. Not flamboyant, he was still drawn to the bohemian life in Greenwich Village of the time and produced a cache of erotic works that were meant to entertain his friends but were unexhibitable during the period. He met Marsden Hartley in the avant-garde salons of Paris, and Hartley introduced him to Steiglitz. The Lafayette Baths in Manhattan were Demuth's favorite haunt. His 1918 homoerotic self-portrait in a Turkish bathhouse was likely set there.
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