The Photography of Punk | Through 15th November | London

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The exhibition features Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, The Clash, Poly Styrene, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jim French, Tom of Finland, Jamie Reid, Pennie Smith, Judy Linn, Bob Gruen, Dennis Morris, Jonh Ingham, Jon Savage, Ku Khanh, Ray Stevenson, Kevin Cummins, Sheila Rock, Steve Johnston, Steve Emberton, Kate Simon. Nick Knight was the creative consultant for the Metroplitan Museum’s exhibition Punk: Chaos to Couture and has programmed a series of accompanying projects on SHOWstudio.com and in SHOWstudio Shop.

 

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Both Todd Oldham and Holly Johnson cite Vivienne Westwood’s “cowboy” T-shirt, popularized by the Sex Pistols, as their introduction to Tom’s art. Ironically, the image appropriated by Westwood and partner Malcolm McLaren for the infamous shirt was not by Tom, but by Los Angeles artist and Colt Studio’s founder Jim French.

JIM FRENCH, 1969 | TOM OF FINLAND, 1964

JIM FRENCH | T-shirt, 1969                           TOM OF FINLAND, 1964

French, never hearing of the shirt, had this to say:

This image was part of a series of a series of six drawings I did with the title ‘Longhorns’. The series was released in 1969, just two years after Colt Studios was created. It was the drawing that first established Colt.

Frontal nudity was not yet legal in 1969, let alone physical contact between men, so I had to be very clever. I remember for this image that I made the space between the two penises as thin as a hair, one of the subtleties lost when cheaply printed, Vivienne Westwood or no.

I trust this will end this tempest in a teapot and put to record straight on the ‘Tom of Finland’ T-shirt. Believe it or not, while he was a great artist, Tom was not the only person drawing noteworthy male nudes in the 1960s and ’70s. There were nowhere as many of my drawings as there were of Tom’s, and mine were in a more realistic vein while his were fantasy, but in the end it is just apples and oranges.

From TASCHEN’s Tom of Finland XXL

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Tom of Finland, Bob Mizer Erotic Art on View at MOCA | 2nd November 2013 – 26 January 2014

Pioneering pornography producer Bob Mizer’s work was heavily suppressed in the 1950s, so much so that he was arrested and charged with the dissemination of obscene materials. Now, as gay culture gains more acceptance in both the art-world and the mainstream, Mizer is being honored as an important figure in shaping the erotic imagery of men. Bob Mizer and Tom of Finland, a new exhibition dedicated to iconic and rare works by Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish) and erotic photographer Mizer, will be on view at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

TOM OF FINLAND, Pen & ink, gouache on paper, © 1972 Tom of Finland Foundation, Inc.

TOM OF FINLAND, Pen & ink, gouache on paper, © 1972 Tom of Finland Foundation

BOB MIZER, Silver gelatin print, Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc.

BOB MIZER, Silver gelatin print, Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc.

The show revisits how gay artists in the mid-20th century were “robbing straight homophobic culture of its most virile and masculine archetypes (bikers, hoodlums, lumberjacks, cops, cowboys, and sailors) and recasting them—through deft skill and fantastic imagination—as unapologetic, self-aware, and boastfully proud enthusiasts of gay sex.”

The exhibition will feature a selection of Laaksonen’s iconic and masterful drawings and books, alongside Mizer’s photographs, films, and examples of his groundbreaking magazine Physique Pictorial—where drawings by “Tom of Finland” were first published in the United States in 1957. Spanning work of five decades, the exhibition seeks a wider appreciation for Mizer and Laaksonen’s art, considering their aesthetic influence on generations of artists, both gay and straight, while also acknowledging its profound cultural and social impact, most importantly in providing open, powerful imagery of queer sexuality in an era of rapidly shifting attitudes towards homosexuality.

We’ll be sure to get out there to have ourselves an, um, aesthetic experience.

Yes, let’s go with that.

By Eric Shorey

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