Keith de Lellis Gallery is pleased to exhibit the photographs of collaborators Paul Cadmus (American, 1904-1999), Jared French (American, 1905-1988), and Margaret French (American, 1889-1973) for the summer season. As coined by Cadmus, the trio is collectively known as “PAJAMA,” the first two letters of each member’s name.
The three painters began making photographs together in 1937, photographing friends, family, and, primarily, each other over the course of the next two decades. Fellow creatives like George Platt Lynes, George Tooker, Glenway Wescott, and Jensen Yow are often pictured. The dreamlike images featured in this exhibition were made on summertime beaches of places like Provincetown, MA and Fire Island, NY. These small prints were collected privately by the artists and distributed among friends, only valued for their artistic merit years after their creation.
Cadmus recalled, “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” (Jerry Rosco, Glenway Wescott Personally: A Biography, p. 78).
The staged tableaus take advantage of the environment, combining the natural forms of dunes, trees, and rocks with the human figure, often nude. The images often served as studies for the artists' paintings, with similar scenes and figures rendered in egg tempera.
Beautiful, intimate, and dramatic, these photographs serve as both a testament to the group's artistic sensibilities and a document of their decades-long friendship.
Pa Ja Ma: Magic Realism will be on view at the Keith de Lellis Gallery through August 10, 2018.