SEE THE COMPLETE ARTICLE
BY CHARLES TREVOR
ON PAGE SIX
Sincerest gratitude goes to everyone
for taking time out of their busy lives and making
the Tom of Finland Foundation panel
at DragCon a huge success.
When he had himself shot in the arm for a performance piece at a Santa Ana gallery, Chris Burden became fleetingly famous. But years later, when he created such outsized, imagination-charged works as “Urban Light,” the ranks of vintage lampposts tightly arrayed outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, he left a longer-lasting legacy.
Burden, the protean Conceptual artist who rose from doing controversial performances in the 1970s to become one of the most compelling and widely admired sculptors of his generation, died Sunday at his home in Topanga Canyon. He was 69.
Paul Schimmel, a close friend of the artist and the former chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art who had organized Burden’s first retrospective exhibition in 1988, said the cause was malignant melanoma. Burden was diagnosed 18 months ago, Schimmel said, but kept the information private except for a few family members and friends.
Burden’s final sculpture, a lyrical homage to Alberto Santos-Dumont, the Brazilian aviator who flew the first practical dirigible around the Eiffel Tower in a momentous 1901 flight, will be shown for a month at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in a special exhibition beginning May 18.
LACMA’s entry plaza is home to “Urban Light,” Burden’s sculpture in the form of a Classical Greek temple unexpectedly composed of 202 restored, antique cast-iron street lamps. Installed in 2008, it rapidly became something of an L.A. symbol.
“Chris’ work combines the raw truth of our reality and an optimism of what humans can make and do,” said LACMA director Michael Govan. With “Urban Light,” he said, Burden told him that he “wanted to put the miracle back in the Miracle Mile.”
Forget Britain’s Trident, or Israel’s Iron Dome – peace-loving Sweden has come up with a much more innovative, and inclusive, system of defence.
The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) is to deal with encroaching Russian submarines in Swedish waters with a device emitting anti-homophobia Morse code.
The device – officially titled The Singing Sailor Underwater Defence System, but nicknamed the “gay sailor” – is a “subsurface sonar system”, which sends out the message: “This way if you are gay” in an attempt to deter apparently homophobic Russians.
Russia has come under fire since the Putin administration introduced homophobic laws in 2013 banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations”, in a climate of increasing intolerance towards its LGBT population.
The design of the device features a neon, flashing sign of a dancing sailor, naked but for a cap and small white briefs, surrounded by hearts.
“Welcome to Sweden: Gay since 1944” is written in English and Russian, in a reference to the year of decriminalisation of homosexuality in the Scandinavian nation.
Sweden has cut its military budget in recent years but announced in March it would increase spending, as a result of alleged Cold War-style Russian aggression.
An operation involving helicopters, minesweepers and 200 troops was launched last October to search for a suspected rogue Russian submarine in Swedish waters.
Sweden is currently not a member of Nato. And thanks to the gay sailor defence system, it may never have to be.
David Hockney, who at 77 remains Britain’s greatest living artist, has complained that too many gay men have become ‘boring’ and ‘conservative’.
Hockney said in an interview that too many gay men were determined to lead ‘ordinary’ lives by entering into civil partnerships and having children through adoption or surrogate mothers.
“They want to be ordinary – they want to fit in,” said Hockney, “Well I don’t care about that. I don’t care about fitting in. Everywhere is so conservative.”
Asked if he would ever have married a man, he was aghast at the suggestion. He also insisted he had never wanted children.
Hockney, speaking ahead of a new exhibition of his work at a gallery in central London, lamented the decline of a bohemian spirit which he argued had been taken over by suburban values. “Bohemia is gone now,” he said.
He said he stayed in contact with former lovers, except when they had become “so boring” that he didn’t want to spend time with them. On a recent visit to San Francisco he was dismayed that the bohemian lifestyle of the city’s large gay community had seemingly vanished. “It’s a very boring city now. Where are the Harvey Milks,” he asked, in reference to the gay rights campaigner who was shot and murdered after becoming the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California.
In a candid moment, Hockney disclosed that despite a string of lovers, the love of his life was “maybe” Gregory Evans, his 62-year-old manager. Hockney and Evans had been lovers for about a decade through the 1970s but have worked together for 40 years.
In the interview with a national newspaper, Hockney also spoke of the death of Dominic Elliott, one of his assistants, who died at the artist’s house in Bridlington in Yorkshire in 2013, after taking a cocktail of drugs and alcohol and then drinking a household drain cleaner.
Hockney said he was now a “little bit” reluctant to return to Bridlington. He presently lives in Los Angeles and admitted he “nearly gave up” painting following the death. He said he downed paintbrushes for four months after Mr Elliott’s death but resumed paining again in July 2013.
By Robert Mendick, Chief Reporter
In post-WW II Finland, homosexuals were officially classified as mentally ill, weak and feminine. They were beaten by police, thrown in jail like criminals and often sent to asylums for “treatment”. In the middle of it all, one man was quietly fantasizing about a different world through the tip of an artist’s pen. Tom of Finland began secretly creating a completely new variety of homoerotic art for gay men. Proud, healthy and über-masculine. His work was sexually liberated. Totally shameless. Gleefully and aggressively trouncing the norm.
His art fanned the flames of a revolution, emboldening a new generation of homosexuals to stand up and celebrate what they were:
It’s been a long time coming, but the artist Tom of Finland — master of the bulge — is finally getting his first major survey. At Artists Space in NYC, the exhibition will include more than 140 drawings, rarely-seen watercolors from the 1940s, over 600 collages, and his early childhood drawings. Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play is the first exhibition to analyze the historic role that his art has played in addressing and transgressing stereotypes of gender, sexuality, race, and class.
It may look playful — if graphic — now, but his work hasn’t always been seen as such. Back when simply being gay was criminal, Tom of Finland (aka Touko Laaksonen) was exploring the outer, and inner, reaches of male-on-male art. As Billy Miller, editor of the hardcore gay-erotica magazine Straight to Hell, told us upon the opening of Bob Mizer and Tom of Finland at MOCA last year, “In the 1950s, naked male bodies with only an outline of a cock seen through a posing strap were just as explicit [as gay porn]…probably more so.”
Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play, June 14 – August 23, 2015, Artists Space, 38 Greene Street, NYC
Durk Dehner is Tom’s archivist and provided the original art for these volumes. He was born in Alberta, Canada, where he studied art before moving to the United States in the mid-seventies. He modeled for photographers Bruce Weber and Ken Haak, and began working with Tom of Finland in 1978 as his public relations liaison. Dehner was instrumental in bringing Tom out of the underground and focusing public attention on his work. The two co-founded the Tom of Finland Foundation in 1984 as an archive for Tom’s work and life history. He continues as head of the Foundation, headquartered in Los Angeles, California, and has expanded it to provide a refuge for all forms of erotic art.
— from the Taschen Website Tom of Finland — The Comic Book Collection, May 2005
Durk Dehner grew up in Alberta, Canada, and attended fine arts programs at The Allied Arts Center in Calgary, Alberta, the University of Alberta, Edmonton, and The Vancouver School of Fine Arts. Dehner co-founded the Tom of Finland Foundation with Tom himself in 1984 to establish an archive for Tom’s life history and work. Dehner has been at the helm of the Foundation developing it into what it is today while working in publishing, film direction, editing and production, public relations and marketing, photography, art collecting, writing, event production, and public speaking. He is a true renaissance man living in the twenty-first century.