Hudson on TOM

Political correctness is a bad thing. It’s shortsighted and encourages repression and polar reaction, rather like Shakespeare’s lady: she doth protest too much. For me, art is about the mind, and the mind is an arena in which anything goes. One learns there to distinguish between the personal and the public. Morals develop as one moves through all the possibilities. Discernment is a must.

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled (Preparatory drawing), 1988, Graphite on paper, 11.75” x 8.75”, ToFF #1062, © 1988 Tom of Finland Foundation

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled (Preparatory drawing), 1988, Graphite on paper, 11.75” x 8.75”, ToFF #1062, © 1988 Tom of Finland Foundation

I am proud of having presented late-’80s and early ’90s exhibitions of rather extreme sexual work, and especially the numerous exhibitions of the drawings of Tom of Finland. He remains a master draftsman and a major influence on so many minds and bodies and artists. Inserting his work into the discussion put the hidden agenda of the repressive politically correct, which then glutted the galleries, on the table. It’s sad that Tom of Finland drawings should remain outside of art. Even to this day the dominant art worlds, especially the American versions, remain so afraid of the representation of sexuality.

During one Tom of Finland exhibition, when Feature Inc. was on Broome Street, a busload of people visited the gallery next door and a few wandered into Feature. A woman, say in her sixties, came in, carefully looked around, left, and soon returned with a male/female couple of a similar age. They were in the gallery for quite some time. On their way out, as they passed by the office, they were quietly speaking among themselves, and the woman from the couple mentioned that she thought she had just seen pornography, and the other woman replied, “Yes, but did you see the way they were drawn?” Overhearing that left me floating.

1601344_675963925776140_634015327_n

Hudson (1950-2014)

– From an interview with Hudson of Feature Inc.
by Dike Blair

Share

Hudson, Feature Inc gallerist, RIP

Hudson-RIP

Tom of Finland Foundation and Feature Inc are the same age. The gallery represented the artist, first during the last years of his career, and presently for ToFF.  Hudson shares in Tom’s legacy by helping place his works in museums and putting many people face-to-face with his original artwork for the first time.

“In 1984 Tom brought 1,500 rough sketches from Finland to store at the Foundation. He never thought they were worthwhile outside of his archives. But I went “oh my god, these are amazing”. So immediately, I sent copies of them to our gallery in New York, Feature gallery. Hudson is an amazing man, and did so much for Tom. Hudson exhibited Tom along with artists that he inspired like G. B. Jones. He also exhibited Martin of Holland, who made drawings of scat play. He exhibited all of them in his gallery in SoHo and he never put up an explanation or a sign. This fucking sign shit. Trying to prevent someone from being offended…”
– Durk Dehner, Sex Magazine, 2014

The one, and only one Hudson, forever.

There will be a private funeral and arrangements are being made for a memorial service in June.

Share

Sex Magazine: “Durk Dehner & the Tom of Finland Foundation” by Michael Bullock

“Tom is not owned by gays, he’s owned by the world.”

Durk Dehner. Photo by Cali Dewitt.

Durk Dehner. Photo by Cali Dewitt.

In 1980, Durk Dehner invited the trailblazing homoerotic artist Tom of Finland to live with him in Los Angeles. From then until his death in 1991 Tom split his time between the Echo Park residence and Finland, with Dehner wearing many hats: muse, model, lover, business partner, friend and cofounder of Tom of Finland Foundation, an organization dedicated to maintaining and building TOM’s archive, and as it states on its letterhead, “Protecting, Preserving and Promoting Erotic Art.” Last week, Tom of Finland Foundation celebrated its 29th birthday, a particularly joyful occasion as it happened in tandem with a landmark exhibition at MOCA LA, a clear summation of the Foundation’s years of hard work and affirmation of Tom of Finland’s proper place in history: a master artist, visionary and champion of sexual freedom whose body of work is important to society at large.

Tom's studio, TOM House. Photo by Cali Dewitt

Tom’s studio, TOM House. Photo by Cali Dewitt

How did the Tom of Finland Foundation start?
My initial motivation for starting the Foundation was as a friend. I took Tom on because he needed to have a business associate that could move things forward. I knew that he wasn’t prepared to do that part of it and I just wanted to help him, especially in America. He wasn’t from here and he was so taken advantage of here.
How did people take advantage of him?
People were always illegally reproducing his work. You could find it all over the place, poorly printed. Oftentimes it never stated who published it, but it was distributed across the country.
Who was actually printing it?
It was the mafia. There was a printer in the San Fernando Valley that was reprinting his work. It’s funny, when we tried to get our first book published we ended up in their office. The printer shook Tom’s hand and immediately said, “I wanna thank you. I’ve made so much money off your work that I was able to put my son through college.” You could see Tom’s face get bright red and he was shaking his head up and down, trying to be agreeable, but it was a complete slap in the face.
Did you still print with them?
We had to because at the time we couldn’t find anyone that would print his work in Los Angeles. I mean here, in this metropolitan city they were so uptight about it. That continued for a long time. It was the same with galleries. They would rarely show explicit erotic work and if it was homosexual in nature, it was even more difficult. Museums certainly weren’t buying or collecting it so we had to find our own way.
How did you do that?
We created our own galleries and our own Art Fair Weekends that were designed to bring artists and potential collectors together. Through that, we developed our own collector base. I’m not saying the Foundation did this by itself, I’m saying it was the culture, the community. It was underground for many years and then it gradually surfaced.
Why did the Foundation care so much about helping other artists?
Tom felt that sexuality expressed in the visual arts is natural; it was one of the premises of his life and, when we don’t allow it, we censor what we could do and inhibit ourselves. He was unwilling to compromise what was creatively coming through him and because of that he sacrificed a faster road to…
Financial success?
Not necessarily. As I said we built a collector base. It was an interesting process because, through the Fairs, our community gave value to its own artists and their work. By raising the prices on ourselves we allowed the artist to be more secure so they could create more work.

Library in TOM House. Photo by Cali Dewitt.

Library in TOM House. Photo by Cali Dewitt.

Continue reading

Share