PaJaMa ~ The Summer Photographic Exhibition at Keith de Lellis Gallery During Pride Month




PaJaMa, Margaret French, Fire Island, NY. Photo courtesy Keith de Lellis Gallery.

With a plethora of outdoor art installations unveiling and a giant hot dog sitting in Time Square, we are reminded that we are stepping into Summer! Adding to the season, Keith de Lellis Gallery will open its doors to the exhibition, PaJaMa, the photographic artist collective formed in 1937 by American artists Paul Cadmus, Jared French and Margaret French ~ with a focus on their time in Saltaire, New York, Fire Island, Provincetown, Massachusetts and Nantucket ~ and the Queer Art World. The exhibition will open on May 30th.

Here they would photograph each other and their friends ~ naked and clothed ~ indoors and out, in a style incorporating magical elements, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality ~ also known as Magical Realism. Cadmus later explained, “After we’d been working most of the day, we’d go out late afternoons and take photographs when the light was best. They were just playthings. We would hand out these little photographs when we went to dinner parties, like playing cards.”

PaJaMa, Paul Cadmus, Provincetown, MA. Photo courtesy Keith de Lellis Gallery

While the photographs taken by the collective were in later years exhibited widely, the three were primarily painters.

Paul Cadmus (b. 1904), known for his egg tempera paintings in urban settings. He also was one of the WPA artists, painting the controversial and erotic mural ‘The Fleet’s In!” in 1934. In 1938, his painting ‘Pocahontas Saving the Life of John Smith‘ at the Parcel Post Building in Richmond, Virginia, was so controversial that it had to be ‘retouched’. And his two paintings in 1940, ‘Sailors and Floozies’ and ‘Seeing the New Year In‘ were removed from public view by the Navy!

Jared French (b.1905) also worked in egg tempera and was a WPA artist. He married Margaret Hoening (b. 1906) in 1938, after her studies at Smith College and the Art Students League. While she was also a painter, she is best known, and primarily focused on photography.

PaJaMa, George Tooker, Margaret French, and Paul Cadmus, Provincetown, Ma. Photo courtesy Keith de Lellis Gallery.

Many of their friends were artists, dancers and writers who became subjects of this playful period in time, and included Christopher Isherwood, an American novelist, playwright and screenwriter; Playwright Tennessee Williams; George Platt Lynes, a fashion photographer; Monroe Wheeler, a Museum of Modern Art Curator; Fidelma Cadmus, sister of Paul Cadmus and wife of Lincoln Kirstein, founder of the New York City Ballet.

PaJaMa was dissolved in the early 1950s.

The Summer Exhibition, PaJaMa, will open on May 30, 2024. Keith de Lellis Gallery is located in the historic Fuller Building located at 41 East 57th Street, Suite 703, NYC.


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