The Photography of Punk | Through 15th November | London


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 and in SHOWstudio Shop.



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 | 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


Leave a Reply