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Hart Crane 18991932
 
About the time Gaston Lachaise made this sketch of Hart Crane, the poet wrote to a friend, "I'm the acknowledged crack dancer everywhere now, and was even in danger for a while of having to pose quite nude for Lachaise, which would have been rather tiresome I imagine." The idealized anatomy of the figure reflects both the articulated musculature of archaic Greek kouroi (sculptures of male youths) and evolving twentieth-century ideas about virile masculinity. But as a celebration of the male body, it is also a discreet reference to Crane's homosexuality.

Lachaise befriended Crane in 1923, when both were contributing to the avant-garde arts journal the Dial. The poet had become famous for enigmatic verses that drew heavily on mythological and historical references. Lachaise evokes the exuberant side of the Crane's personality; by one account he had an "annihilating sense of humor." But the alcoholic Crane also battled depression throughout his life and committed suicide in 1932.

Gaston Lachaise (18821935)
Graphite on paper, circa 1923
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Lachaise Foundation
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