Feb 13, 2009

Dancing Sailors

Dancing Sailors


Charles Demuth

(American, 1883–1935)

Watercolor over graphite

Support: Cream(2) wove paper, laid down on gray board

Sheet: 20.4 x 25.7 cm (8 1/16 x 10 1/8 in.); Secondary Support: 21.4 x 26.3 cm (8 7/16 x 10 3/8 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1980.9


Did you know?

This drawing was exhibited only once during the artist's lifetime, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York—notable since he otherwise did not show them publicly.


This drawing was inspired by Charles Demuth's participation in the nightlife of New York's Greenwich Village during the early 20th century. Around this time, the artist made numerous watercolors of nightclubs, performers, and bathhouses. Demuth created two almost identical compositions (the other is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York), which both show groups of three couples, with two sailors dancing together while others dance with women. Demuth kept these and other homoerotic watercolors private throughout his career, and almost never showed them publicly. The sheet's planes of textured watercolor blur figure and background, presenting a subtle but pointedly erotic scene.

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