Wednesday, 26 July 2017

EbookCoverWelcome to the George Quaintance blog. Your hosts, John Waybright and Ken Furtado, are the authors of QUAINTANCE: The Short Life of an American Art Pioneer, the only complete, authoritative biography of Quaintance ever written. Our book fills a cultural, historical and academic void for this seminal 20th century artist. It is packed with photos and available as an ebook at Smashwords, for the low price of $12.99. We are excited to have exclusive access to hundreds of never-published photographs from Quaintance’s personal scrapbooks and family archives. Sadly, John passed away in May 2013, before seeing the book published. We hope you will use this site as a platform to exchange ideas, information and images related to this under-valued artist, as well as to learn more about him. Please send your email to kfurtado@georgequaintance.com.

 

bobmizerA few years ago, I accepted an invitation from Dennis Bell to visit the Athletic Model Guild. Founded by Bob Mizer in 1945, AMG is the longest continually operating adult male studio in history. It is legendary in so many ways, and it has had such an impact on American erotic culture and counterculture, that Mizer deserves to be on a postage stamp.

Mizer himself was an astonishing personality. As a precocious teen, he and his friends would attend parties thrown by older gay men, delighting their hosts by taking off all their clothes. He began keeping a diary at the age of 17, writing in it nearly every day for the remainder of his life. That diary today encompasses many volumes and makes fascinating reading. Written in extra-large lettering on the very first page, it says: "Bob Mizer … The Boy … The Thinker … The …?"

It was as if he were setting the stage for the rest of his life.

islandboyDisplaying frontal male nudity was risky in George Quaintance's day. When you consider that many images of unclothed men, even with their penises concealed, often were considered to be obscene, it's no wonder that GQ omitted the penis from his every canvas.

Actually, Quaintance sketched models who were fully nude and studio photographer Victor Garcia photographed models in the nude. Quaintance is even said to have painted while he himself was nude.

As I have reported elsewhere, Quaintance would sometimes include a penis in one of his paintings, only to cover it with paint before he finished.

aerialRancho Siesta was many things. It was the Arizona studio where George Quaintance lived and worked. It was an ingenious and overwhelmingly successful marketing concept. And it was the closest the American West ever came to an honest-to-goodness incarnation of Shangri-La.

It's interesting that Disneyland opened in 1955, when Rancho Siesta was at the height of its fame and popularity. Disneyland offered Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Frontierland. Rancho Siesta offered the same, but in a different package.

anomaly1Glenn Bishop was a hugely popular physique model in the 1950s. There's hardly a single publication of that era that did not have his photos in it at one time or other. Bishop began modeling when he was 15. He was touted as an example of how teenagers could follow the bodybuilding examples of adults. Later, Joe Weider used Bishop as an example of how anyone could build a great physique by following a regimen of calisthenics and weightlifting with free weights — preferably, Weider equipment. No expensive gym membership necessary.

Quaintance painted Glenn Bishop's portrait in 1957, the year he (Quaintance) died. The 37x30-inch oil on canvas depicts Bishop, wearing a bikini, reclining along the trunk of a dead tree. The canvas is signed and dated in the lower right.

hair-kissDuring the 1930s, George Quaintance made an international name for himself as a designer of women's hairstyles. His clients on both coasts were illustrious women of stage, screen, politics and high society. He was in great demand at beauty shows and conventions and one of his major sponsors was Procter and Gamble. In the winter of 1938 alone, Quaintance attended conventions and gave demonstrations in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas and New York City. Quaintance was an early proponent of the theory that the design of a hairstyle must take into account the geometry of the face and hairline.

Although Quaintance designed more hairstyles than he actually executed, it is not true, as has been written elsewhere, that "he never actually touched hair." Contributing to his great appeal were shows in which he would not only design a hairstyle for a woman selected from the audience, but execute it on the spot for all in attendance to see.

4masques

In the 1930s, Quaintance seemed preoccupied with depicting disembodied heads. He did it in lithographs, on book dust jackets, in advertising imagery and, when that was not enough, he ventured into the third dimension. The result was a series of wall plaques in high relief that he collectively called masques, while giving individual titles to the various faces.