The Young and Evil

Queer Modernism in New York 1930–1955



ISBN: 9781644230268 Category:

Jarrett Earnest, Ann Reynolds, Kenneth Silver, Michael Schreiber


Lauded by Jerry Saltz as “one of the most reactionary yet radical visions of art,” The Young and Evil tells the story of a group of artists and writers active during the first half of the twentieth century, when homosexuality was as problematic for American culture as figuration was for modernist painting.

These artists-including Paul Cadmus, Fidelma Cadmus Kirstein, Charles Henri Ford, Jared French, Margaret Hoening French, George Platt Lynes, Bernard Perlin, Pavel Tchelitchew, George Tooker, Alexander Jensen Yow, and their circle-were new social creatures, playfully and boldly homosexual at a time when it was both criminalized and pathologized. They pursued a modernism of the body-driven by eroticism and bounded by intimacy, forming a hothouse world within a world that doesn’t nicely fit any subsequent narrative of modern American art. In their work, they looked away from abstraction toward older sources and models-classical and archaic forms of figuration and Renaissance techniques. What might be seen as a reactionary aesthetic maneuver was made in the service of radical content-endeavoring to depict their own lives. Their little-known history is presented here through never-before-exhibited photographs, sculptures, drawings, ephemera, and rarely seen major paintings-offering the first view of its kind into their interwoven intellectual, artistic, and personal lives.

Edited by Jarrett Earnest, who also curated the exhibition, The Young and Evil features new scholarship by art historians Ann Reynolds and Kenneth E. Silver and an interview with Alexander Jensen Yow by Michael Schreiber.

Additional information

Weight 1041 g
Dimensions 23.1 x 30.5 cm
Publisher name David Zwirner Books
Publication date 30 March 2020
Number of pages 160
Format Hardback
Dimensions 23.1 x 30.5 cm
Weight 1041 g


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “The Young and Evil”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Jarrett Earnest is a writer and artist living in New York City. He is the author of What it Means to Write About Art: Interviews with art critics (2018) and editor of Hot, Cold, Heavy, Light: 100 Art Writings 1988-2018 by Peter Schjeldahl (2019). He also coedited the volumes Tell Me Something Good: Artist Interviews from The Brooklyn Rail (2017) and For Bill, Anything: Images and Text for Bill Berkson (2015). His writing has appeared in many publications and exhibition catalogues around the world.

Ann Reynolds teaches modern and contemporary art history and women's and gender studies at The University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Robert Smithson: Learning from New Jersey and Elsewhere (2003) and is currently completing a book entitled In Our Time, a history of intergenerational relationships among New York artists circa 1940 to 1970 that were shaped by shared, if heterogeneous, commitments to surrealism and its legacy, primarily through a love of film.

Kenneth E. Silver is professor of art history at New York University. He received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and an American Council of Learned Societies Grant. He was a Getty Research Institute Visiting Scholar and a Mellon-Getty Fellow at The Phillips Collection. Silver is a contributing editor of Art in America. He is the author of numerous books and exhibition catalogues and has curated exhibitions internationally. In recognition of his contributions to the dissemination of the art and culture of France, Silver was named a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in the spring of 2010.

Michael Schreiber is a teacher and writer based in Chicago. His first book, One-Man Show: The Life and Art of Bernard Perlin (2016), was named a 2017 Stonewall Honor Book, 2018 Rainbow Book List Selection by the American Library Association, and won the A. C. Katt Award for Best Debut Gay Book. It is currently being adapted into a feature-length documentary by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Andrew Fredericks. As curator for the estate of Bernard Perlin, Schreiber has organized several exhibitions of the artist's work. He is also working on a book about Alexander Jensen Yow and other members of the intimate circle depicted in The Young and Evil.