Aspects of Suburban Life: Public Dock

  • Paul Cadmus, Aspects of Suburban Life: Public Dock, 1936, tempera, oil, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the U.S. Department of State, 1978.76.2

Luce Center Label

Public Dock depicts a group of vacationers recoiling from an electric eel that a hapless fisherman has caught. Paul Cadmus conveyed the boisterous atmosphere of an afternoon at the beach: the crush of bodies, the flap of flags on yardarms, the roar of a biplane overhead. A blowsy woman with bottle-blond hair and vivid make-up topples backward with a small child, and a bathing beauty at the lower right realizes what she is swimming with. Cadmus created this as part of his Aspects of Suburban Life series, which was intended for a post office mural.

Luce Object Quote

“I’m called a realist painter, yet I don’t know how realistic I am---sometimes magic realist, sometimes symbolic realist, in any case always representational. I want people to know what I’m saying.” Cadmus, quoted in Kirstein, Paul Cadmus, 1992

Aspects of Suburban Life: Public Dock
On View
Not on view.
31 3/8 x 52 5/8 in. (79.7 x 133.7 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Transfer from the U.S. Department of State

  • Cityscape – wharf
  • Recreation – sport and play – fishing
  • Recreation – sport and play – swimming
  • Recreation – sport and play – boating
  • Figure group – male and female
  • New Deal – Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project – New York City
  • Animal – fish – eel
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI