Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker

“You always look so cool. You resemble the advertisement of the man . . . you know, the advertisement of the man.” Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby

We all know the art of J.C. Leyendecker. He’s best known as the creator of the Arrow Collar Man in the shirt advertisements as well as the covers of the Saturday Evening Post. Leyendecker’s art captured the zeitgeist of the Roaring Twenties. However, few of us know the man J.C. Leyendecker and his relationship with the Arrow Collar model Charles Beach. 



Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker is a new documentary by Ryan White. According to the official website,

J.C. Leyendecker was one of the most prominent artists of his time, but his story is largely forgotten. Forced to keep his sexuality a secret, his coded imagery spoke directly to the gay community and laid the foundation for LGBTQ representation in advertising today.

Winner of the Best Documentary Short award at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker is beautiful, and well-made. It mixes gorgeous animation with photography and rare film with a moving soundtrack and informative narration.    

I highly recommend this documentary. Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker is currently showing on the streaming service Paramount +.

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