If this painter’s perspective might be condemned as degrading to women then his frame reminds us that everyone is entitled to their viewpoint.

Or if we suspect that the painter was using women only as symbols of dangerous political groups busy amassing their war machines then the frame replies, “Don’t worry. Entertaining political cartoonists often employ similarly distorted iconography.”

When we might become nervous because the blonde appears to be vampirish and aligned with wear-it-on-your-chest zealots then the frame reminds us to be silent because religious hierarchies hoard their testosterone for just such battles.

By assuring us that all discourses can be restrained by our socio-psychological-post-feminist-scientific methods the frame soothes any anxieties that we might have about why the sleeping Adonis has his hand protecting home plate.

And perhaps most importantly, the frame relegates to aesthetics rather than to metaphysics whatever premonition or coincidence that allowed the artist to create that particular newspaper headline in 1939–two years before Pearl Harbor.

With this frame this picture is safely Art.

When the frame is part of the painting and the wall inside the painting appears to also be the frame outside the painting. And the same graffiti appears inside as bad art and then appears outside as real life the artist’s vision is no longer confined and begins to leak down the museum’s marble wall, over the brightly waxed floor and stick to our shoes, our ankles, our breath as we attempt to escape into the hot light of a July afternoon.


Sailors and Floozies painted by Paul Cadmus in 1938 at the Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA