Thursday, 25 May 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



litho5abwThese final five lithographs were produced shortly before Quaintance's death. As a result, they were not heavily advertised nor were many sold, and they are quite difficult to find. Bacchant and Rodeo Victor were issued as a pair, and both images appeared on the covers of numerous magazines in the US and Europe. The size was 11x14 inches — the same as Baths of Ancient Rome and Spartan Soldiers Bathing — except the wide margins were omitted. The attached image shows an advertising insert Quaintance sent to his mail-order customers to announce this duo. (Pardon the seam on the color images, which I had to scan in two passes each.)


After posting the previous entry, I remembered a 2009 conversation I had with the nephew of Victor Garcia. I will call him Fermin, as he does not wish me to use his name. Victor was George's romantic partner long before the founding of the Quaintance Studio. After George and Victor ceased to be lovers, Victor remained George's business partner and principal studio photographer, and he co-inherited the Quaintance estate.

Fermin told me that, as a child, he and his sister and mother (Victor's sister, Josefina) would visit George and Victor in their New York City apartment. The painting Kanaka Fisherman was hanging over the mantelpiece, and Fermin and his sister would giggle at it and call it "the nakedy man."

The story of how I located Fermin, and what happened with the Quaintance estate after George's death, is told in the forthcoming biography.

3kanakafishermenA visitor to this blog recently wrote to ask me about an original Quaintance canvas he owns. He enclosed snapshots. Lo, it was Kanaka Fisherman, but it was a fisherman I have never seen.

Two other versions of Kanaka Fisherman are known. One of them bears a 1940 date and the vertical signature. In it, the man is throwing a net. This painting (center image in photo) belongs to a collector in Los Angeles and it was purchased directly from the Quaintance estate in the 1970s. The canvas orientation is horizontal.

mae west muralQuaintance was his own best promoter, and one of the things he promoted himself as was a muralist. But where are the murals?

There's one for sure: it hangs over the baptismal font at the Stanley, Virginia Baptist Church that his mother attended. Quaintance painted it at her request, with the blessings of the church, and it's there today for all to see. It depicts life-sized figures of John the Baptist holding the hand of Jesus and leading him into the River Jordan. Six male figures are prostrate on the shore, including an anomalous jungle boy wearing a tiny loincloth.

Quaintance was also said to have painted the mural adorning an entire wall of Mae West's boudoir, at her 7,500-square-foot Santa Monica beach house. The residence was considered to be an art deco masterpiece, but the mural was destroyed during remodeling after West sold the property. I have a poor, foreshortened snapshot of the mural. It does not appear to be the work of Quaintance.


lithos2a1After publishing part 2 of this series, an email correspondent reminded me of a conversation long ago in which we discussed the Reynolds lithographs. There are in fact two others of which I have photos, and there may be more, as Quaintance painted a lot of these female pinups.

Morning in the DesertDuring Quaintance's lifetime, the U.S. Supreme Court had yet to come up with the Miller Test for obscenity, and nearly anyone who was offended by an image could declare it obscene. It was usually OK to show a male model's buttocks but frontal nudity was a big no-no, as was any suggestion of homoeroticism. Even if a male model wore the ubiquitous posing strap, "excessive genital delineation" could be cause for legal trouble.

Having spent 1947 in jail for using the mail to distribute "obscenity," Physique Pictorial publisher Bob Mizer employed legal advisers to avoid future errors in judgment when deciding what images could be safely published in his hugely popular magazine. Quaintance's imagery and advertising were a mainstay of Physique Pictorial in its early years, but when the painting Morning in the Desert was selected for the cover of the Feb. 1952 issue, there needed to be some changes.