||George Platt Lynes was born April 15th, 1907, in East Orange, New Jersey, to Joseph
Russell and Adelaide Sparkman Lynes. Lynes spent his childhood in New Jersey,
attended the Berkshire School in Massachusetts as a teenager. During high school,
Lynes demonstrated a great interest in becoming a writer but was generally not
successful in school. In 1925 Lynes was sent to Paris in hope of better preparing
him for college. While in Paris, he became acquainted with Gertrude Stein and
circle of friends, including Glenway Wescott and Monroe Wheeler.
||Lynes returned to the United States intent on pursuing a literary career. He dabbled
in publishing and even opened a bookstore in Englewood, New Jersey in 1927. That
same year Lynes received training from a local professional photographer. Although
not interested in pursuing photography as a career, Lynes began taking portraits
his friends and family and exhibiting his work in the bookstore.
||In 1928 Lynes again traveled to France, this time accompanied by Wescott and Wheeler.
For the next few years Lynes traveled around Europe, all the while honing his
photography skills. He developed friendships with numerous artists and patrons
including Pavel Tchelitchew, Jean Cocteau, and the influential art dealer and
Julien Levy. Lynes eventually returned to the United States, and in 1932 opened
first photo studio. That same year, Levy exhibited Lynes' work alongside that
Walker Evans at his gallery in New York City.
||Levy's promotional efforts, combined with Lynes' innovative style and mastery of
lighting, made Lynes one of the most sought after photographers in the country.
1934 he was receiving regular commissions from Harper's
Bazaar, Town & Country, and
Vogue, and in 1935 he was invited to document the
principal dancers and productions of Lincoln Kirstein's and George Balanchine's
newly founded American Ballet company (now the New York City Ballet). Throughout
remainder of the 1930s and the early 1940s Lynes continued to shoot fashion
photographs, getting accounts with such major clients as Bergdorf Goodman and
Fifth Avenue. In addition to his commercial work, Lynes began a series of
photographs which interpreted characters and stories from Greek mythology.
||By the mid-1940s Lynes began to lose interest in his commercial fashion photography
and grew disillusioned with New York. In 1946 he left for Hollywood where he took
the post of Chief Photographer for the Vogue studios.
There he photographed major figures in the film industry, including Katharine
Hepburn, Rosalind Russell, Gloria Swanson and Orson Welles, as well as leading
figures of the arts and literature, among them Aldous Huxley, Igor Stravinsky
Thomas Mann. After just two years Lynes ran into financial trouble, and in 1948
friends helped sponsor his move back to New York.
||Lynes returned to a post-war New York where new photographers, such as Richard Avedon
and Irving Penn, had taken his place in the fashion world. This fact, coupled
Lynes' increasing disinterest in commercial work, meant he was never able to regain
the successes he once had. Lynes spent most of his time focusing on homoerotic
imagery, and he began working with Dr. Alfred Kinsey and his Institute in
Bloomington, Indiana. Lynes' financial troubles persisted, and twice he was forced
to declare bankruptcy.
||In May of 1955 Lynes was diagnosed terminally ill with lung cancer. He closed his
studio and even destroyed much of his print and negative archives. After a final
trip to Europe, Lynes returned to New York City where he died December 6, 1955.