Gilbert Lewis, Untitled (8-25-83)

August 25, 1983
Gouache on paper
Credit Line
Gift of Bill Scott in honor of Noël Butcher Hanley, 2016
44 ½ x 30 in.

Lewis asked his models to pose as they felt comfortable, and insisted they wear clothing of their own choosing. In this way, he recorded the fashions of the time and created a collaborative relationship with his sitters. The artist’s friends called him a fashionista, and frequent models would sometimes challenge him with particularly complex fabric weaves or patterns. Lewis sometimes asked them to leave clothing behind so he could work on the depiction of the fabrics.

This couple sport the preppy fashions of the early 1980s, a conservative fashion moment associated with the Reagan era. Lewis designed the painting around the contrasting intensity of the pale blue shirt at left and the vibrant purple at right. Lacoste was a high-status brand, and the artist makes the alligator logo stand out on shirt and belt. We know these young men are a couple not only by their complimentary attire, but also from a subtle, intimate gesture: the figure at right wraps his arm behind his partner’s waist and tucks his finger into his pants. 

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  • This painting by Gilbert Lewis was originally titled, "Brothers". As you look at the painting I am on the right wearing the bright purple Lacoste shirt. On the left stands my brother, Reginald younger than me by five years. The shirt he wears actually was a teal and white striped Oxford cloth. Sitting for Gilbert was a lot of fun. Reggie sat for others too. I'm ready to sit for another anytime.

    John C. Gaither
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