Luigi Lucioni and Paul Cadmus probably met as students, and they doubtless shared acquaintances within New York’s circles of gay artists and writers. Lucioni’s likeness of Cadmus (1928) celebrated the shared passion of two young moderns for the ideal forms of Italian Renaissance art, particularly the paintings of Piero della Francesca. Within a modern close-up format, the artist captured a gaze that is at once tentative and mesmerizing.
Paul Cadmus (December 17, 1904 – December 12, 1999) was an American artist, best known for his egg tempera paintings of gritty social interactions in urban settings. His paintings combine elements of eroticism and social critique in a style often called magic realism. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has recently reintroduced a series of his thematic paintings, The Seven Deadly Sins (1945 – 49), for exhibit in the museum’s Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries, and they are amazingly graphic works of surrealist horror art that are really something to see.
Between 1945 and 1949, Paul Cadmus turned his dexterous hand and fertile imagination to rendering the Seven Deadly Sins, a subject with biblical antecedents that artists (including Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder) have explored since the Middle Ages.
Cadmus’s interpretation extends his predilection for social satire to surreal extremes of excess, vulgarity and gore. Of the series, Cadmus explained, “I don’t appear as myself, but I am all of the Deadly Sins in a way, as you all are, too.