The Posters Adds Work by Greg Bogin and Tom of Finland to its Roster of Affordable Art Prints

Being an art lover of a certain income is always bitter sweet. On one hand, we have the Internet and its infinite database of beautiful images of art from the entire history of the world. On the other, we all wish that we could own more tangible art works by our favorite artists.

That makes projects like the e-commerce site The Posters endearing. The site was established by Athena Currey and Adrian Rosenfeld. Currey and Rosenfeld have over 15 years experience working with artists, collectors, and curators. Currey has been a mainstay of the art world since the early 2000s when she was hanging out with downtown NYC art fixtures like Ben Cho and Brian DeGraw at Smiths-themed DJ parties, as she recalls in Into the Gloss. Rosenfeld is the former director of Matthew Marks Gallery.

Now based in Los Angeles, Currey and Rosenfeld established The Posters as means to get art into the homes of people who love it but don’t have nearly enough money to shell out for original pieces. The posters are museum quality lithograph prints, and The Posters has created prints depicting the work of a number of buzzed about and beloved artists: Nate Lowman, Mark Gonzalez, Owen Schmit, Sadie Laska, Sara Vanderbeek, and many others. Costing only $55 a poster, The Posters donates 10 percent of the funds to art education groups that pays for an hour of art education to under-served youths in America.

TomOfFinlandFinal

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Archival offset lithograph on 80 pound McCoy silk cover paper, 30 x 24 inches. © 1963 Tom of Finland Foundation

The late Tom of Finland, aka Touko Laaksonen, who died in 1991, was a 20th century Finnish artist who became legendary for his stylized images of homoerotic behavior. Some argue that Tom of Finland’s work helped bring gay culture to the mainstream. Tom of Finland’s work is on view at the Artists Space until August 23rd at the exhibition Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play. Tom of Finland’s work was positive in its message preaching self-improvement through exercise. An example of this message and style can be seen in Tom of Finland’s untitled piece that features two leather clad men looking at a sign that reads, “Who will be Mr. Universe next year?” This revolutionary piece will be given the print treatment by The Posters.

In celebration of the artists’ New York City exhibitions, The Posters released prints by artists Tom of Finland Foundation and Greg Bogin on June 1.

ForbesBy Adam Lehrer

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New York debut of The Posters | 9th July

unnamed.jpgTHE POSTERS SERVES UP FINE ART TO-GO

Remember the days of Tiger Beat pull-out posters with Justin Timberlake’s baby-face and crunchy Ramen hair? Or perhaps you were the kid that went to the F.Y.E. store at the mall and bought an endless assortment of Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup Can posters. Well, fellow decor-obsessed children of the ’80s and ’90s, the poster dream never died, and here to prove it to you is an art publishing company by the name of The Posters.

Because our taste has gotten more sophisticated, The Posters brings the work of your favorite artists off of the museum walls and into your foyer. Based on pieces from everyone from Tom of Finland to Mark Gonzales, its high-quality offset lithographs display the details of each artist’s technique and match their canvases’ original colors. Compared to the poster printing process, choosing the artists to feature is relatively simple, say co-founders Athena Currey and Adrian Rosenfeld. “We ask friends and others artists who they would like to own a poster by,” says Athena. “We go to shows, studio visits, and we look online; it’s a never ending process. This is a bit of a blessing because we are more thoughtful with our choices.”

Available at Opening Ceremony starting July 9 is a wide range of The Posters prints by artists including Marc Hundley, Nate Lowman, Sara VanDerBeek, Wyatt Kahn, and Simone Shubuck—each for only $55. In addition to owning the work of some of today’s most renowned artists for a totally affordable price, you can get them signed at our launch event at Opening Ceremony Ace, where Hundley, Kahn, VanDerBeek, and Shubuck will be present.

The best part of The Posters? It helps fund art education for underserved children. Ten percent of each poster sold goes to education partners, like Inner-City Arts located in downtown LA. “We look at our contributions to art education as being part of an ecosystem,” says Athena. “We make affordable posters of work hanging in museums and galleries, these images then end up in your home, and the sales fund art classes where new artists are being formed every day.”

By Chloe Drewberry
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I’m A Cruiser: Tom of Finland’s Subcultural Smut At Artists Space

As the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage this week, everyone on the Twitters was declaring #LoveWins. Well, maybe, but let’s remember that love doesn’t just win in chapels and courthouses. Love can also win in sex clubs and bathhouses, in parks and public restrooms. Like John Waters says, I miss perverts! Well, what better way to celebrating sleaze with the father of hypermasculine homoeroticism himself: Tom of Finland.

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1967, Graphite on paper, Private Collection, Sweden © 1967 Tom of Finland Foundation

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1967, Graphite on paper, Private Collection, Sweden © 1967 Tom of Finland Foundation

The most comprehensive exhibition of Tom of Finland’s gloriously glory-hole-driven work to date, Artists Space fills their two locations with Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play. With a winding exhibition layout that resembles the labyrinth-like architecture of sex clubs or the Ramble, The Pleasure of Play titillates, overstimulates and overwhelms with Tom of Finland’s seminal subcultural and subversive illustrations.

Ok, let’s be honest, Tom’s work can be…well…intimidating. With military uniforms, barrel chests, bubble butts and yes, enormous dicks, Tom’s characters can err toward the Ubermensch fascist. And certainly, turning every corner in the exhibition to wander into a new pleasure bacchanal in a jail cell, park or motorcycle rally is a unique viewing experience.

However, due to the almost unbelievable span of the exhibition, The Pleasure of Play reveals the work’s significance to gay culture not only as spank-bank material but also as a means to depict relationships–sexual or otherwise–between men.

Born Touko Laaksonen, Tom was given his recognizable name by another pioneer in eroticism – Bob Mizer who published Tom’s work in his influential muscle mag Physique Pictorial. While Tom was drawing muscle men for Mizer’s publication, he was also holding down a straight job at Helsinki’s McCann Erickson, an ad agency you might recall from Mad Men. Related: you know that queen Sal was lusting after Tom’s drawings in his office when he wasn’t dancing to Bye Bye Birdie.

With his first exhibition of his work at Stompers, a West Village boot store, Tom became one of the most seminal figures in gay culture, almost singlehandedly inspiring fetish aesthetics that continue today. With his drawings, Tom developed or at least, cemented the stylistic markers of hypermasculinity from leather jackets to military caps and harnesses. Just look around at the Folsom Street East  or go to The Eagle and you’ll still see men dressed exactly like Tom’s illustrations.

With the extensive and expansive nature of The Pleasure of Play, viewers can follow the consistent aesthetic that Tom pursued throughout his career. Despite the wide range of dates, it would be almost impossible without looking at the wall labels to discern which year many of the illustrations were made. Despite the enormous political changes and events that occurred from the 1950s to 1980s from Stonewall to ACT UP, Tom’s characters largely remain the same: an unwavering fantasy that continues to inspire men today. Just look for the Tom of Finland tattoos.

However, some of the most interesting works in the show were the drawings that did not resemble the large majority of his oeuvre. For example, an early gouache from 1947 more closely resembles Leyendecker’s Arrow Collar Man (not to say that also isn’t queer in it’s own way) than his own later work.

Perhaps my favorite part of the two-space exhibition was the smaller show in Artists Space Books & Talks on Walker Street, which showcases Tom’s inspirational collages. Cutting out pages of print advertising, newspapers and magazines, as well as gay periodicals, Tom grouped imagery of different men together by type from leathermen to motorcycles to mustaches and uniforms. On some of the collages, Tom also drew directly onto the collage materials, visibly developing his unforgettable style. Studying the mainstream print illustrations, Tom then transgressively transformed them into his own subcultural vision.

Despite the aesthetic aggression in Tom’s illustrations and other works throughout the exhibition, the illustrations also contain an earnest tenderness, revealing the possibilities of queer relationships. Depicting an outlaw relation between men that, at the time of his drawings’ creation, had to be coded, secretive and hidden away, Tom’s illustrations became a means for men to experience not only sexuality and hypermasculinity, but relationships between men.

By Emily ColucciFilthy

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