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Military recruitment art, and advertising that used military images was produced by men to appeal to men. Sweaty, shirtless men in intimate situations with other sweaty muscular men were rendered to attract impressionable men of age to enlist. So why do they look so homoerotic to the modern eye? Was that the intent? Certainly artists like J.C. Leyendecker were openly gay. What about McClelland Barclay? Like this stuff? See the first in our series on The Golden Age of Denial: Bible Porn.

 

Above: J.C. Leyendecker (March 23, 1874 – July 25, 1951): This prolific American illustrator was the creator of the Arrow Collar Man, and like the later illustrator Norman Rockwell, Leyendecker is almost exclusively associated with one publication: The Saturday Evening Post. Leyendecker produced over 400 magazine covers, 322 for the Post alone. Between the Post, his work for U.S. military campaign posters and promotions, and his art for men’s fashion companies — most notably the Arrow Shirt Collar Co. — Leyendecker created a gold mine of male beauty. His lucrative commissions financed a hedonistic Roaring Twenties lifestyle with his lover and favorite model, Charles Beach.

His renderings of American military men are almost worshipful in detail, and deeply sentimental. But past the heroic posturing, there is a sensual, sexual message that comes through, as above in this almost Byronic portrait.

For more of his work see our earlier article: Before the Dawn of Tom

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