George Quaintance (June 3, 1902 – November 8, 1957) was an American artist, famous for his “idealized, strongly homoerotic depictions of men in mid-20th-century physique magazines. Using historical settings to justify the nudity or distance the subjects from modern society, his art featured idealized muscular, semi-nude or nude male figures; Wild West settings were a common motif. His artwork helped establish the stereotype of the “macho stud” who was also homosexual. He was an influence on many later homoerotic artists, such as Tom of Finland.
Quaintance, who died in 1957, lived and worked during an era when homosexuality was repressed, when his joyful paintings and physique photos could not depict a penis. In an era before Stonewall, the sexual revolution, gay rights and the AIDS crisis, Quaintance and his high-camp erotic art existed in a demi-monde of borderline legality.
Half a century on, the masculine fantasy world created by Quaintance, populated by Latin lovers, lusty cowboys and chiseled ranch hands, retains its seductive allure. His highly prized paintings—numbering just 55—rarely come to auction, instead selling privately for undisclosed sums. As the preeminent ‘male physique’ artist of the 1940s and early ’50s, his work for Physique Pictorial, Demi-Gods and Body Beautiful inspired a generation of artists like Tom of Finland, Harry Bush, Etienne, and other, lesser stars in their constellation.
TASCHEN’s Quaintance traces his remarkable life story and reintroduces his colorful, kitschy and culturally resonant paintings—works that made George Quaintance the most popular and successful physique artist of his time, and one of its most intriguing figures. A must have Coffee Table book.