Film Recommendation: HIDDEN MASTER: THE LEGACY OF GEORGE PLATT LYNES (Directed by Sam Shahid; Screening at NewFest 2023)

Post image for Film Recommendation: HIDDEN MASTER: THE LEGACY OF GEORGE PLATT LYNES (Directed by Sam Shahid; Screening at NewFest 2023)

by Lamont Williams on October 17, 2023

in Film,Theater-New York,Virtual


George Platt Lynes working in his studio

The early years of George Platt Lynes’ career read like a Hollywood film script. Gifted and financially secure, he was privately educated and well-traveled. In the ’20s Lynes went to Paris, where he became acquainted with Man Ray and with Gertrude Stein and the writers and artists of her circle; by the middle of the ’30s he had established himself in New York, and, though not yet 30, had achieved success in the commercial and fashion photography fields and had exhibited his art photography at the Julien Levy Gallery and at the Museum of Modern Art.

Herbert Bliss by George Platt Lynes

His achievements, however, were balanced by problems: the death, in World War II, of George Tichenor (with whom Lynes was deeply involved), the frustration of failing to exhibit his male nudes for fear of damaging his commercial career, an unsuccessful three-year stint in Hollywood, and, finally, financial difficulties and cancer.

Still from Hidden Master: The Legacy of George Platt Lynes
Gertrude Stein’s correspondence with a young George Platt Lynes

But in his view, his most important works were his nude photographs of men. Yet during Lynes’ life, few even knew of their existence. Because of prevailing attitudes toward homosexuality, which included criminalization and strict obscenity laws, Lynes – himself a gay man – had to keep this incredibly influential and important body of work hidden away. Before he died in 1955, at the age of 48, Lynes destroyed much of his work—concentrating especially on the male nudes and celebrity portraits he thought might prove too revealing.

John Leapheart and Robert "Buddy" McCarthy by George Platt Lynes;
inter-racial subjects perhaps paved the way for Mapplethorpe

From art director Sam Shahid, this articulate, wide-ranging, eye-opening fabulously gossipy documentary brings to life the charming, complex man who wielded his good looks, natural talent, and massive ambition in pursuit of artistic creation and sexual pleasure. Plus along with commentary from some of the surviving artists and writers who once knew Lynes, there is a jaw-dropping collection of photography from the 1930s-50s, and even insight into the context of American Puritanism that no doubt led to who knows how many destroyed masterpieces by Lynes.

Festival Listing
Premiere Status: New York Premiere
Directed by: Sam Shahid

NewFest Screening was on Friday, October 13
but it is streaming through Tuesday, October 24, 2023
for future screenings, visit Hidden Master Film

Diana Vreeland by George Platt Lynes

Year: 2023
Runtime: 96 minutes
Language: English
Country: USA
Genre: Feature Film, Documentary

Mary Panzer, Art Historian & Curator

Director: Sam Shahid
Screenwriter: Sam Shahid, Matthew Kraus, John MacConnell
Producer: Matthew Kraus, John MacConnell, Nando de Carvalho
Executive Producer: O’Brien Kelley, Raja Sethuraman
Cinematographer: Matthew Kraus
Editor: Conor McBride
Composer: Sarah Lynch
Sound Design: John MacConnell

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