TOM OF FINLAND (ARTISTS SPACE, NEW YORK) The year’s sexiest show was also one of its smartest. In the gallery’s main space, Tom’s meticulously refined drawings—as elegant as they are erotic—were installed in a series of parallel corridors, offering viewers a series of intimate encounters with the works and engendering an excitement not unlike that of cruising. Even when they’re not designed as storyboard sequences, his pictures have a terrific narrative compression—an energy straining for the inevitable climax. His pumped-up supermen are ready for anything, often in full view of voyeurs who act as stand-ins for an avid audience. At the satellite gallery on Walker Street, the annex show of densely collaged scrapbook pages—faces, physiques, fetish wear—was a fascinating glimpse into Tom’s private library of sources and inspirations.
Vince Aletti reviews photography exhibitions for the New Yorker and photography books for Photographmagazine. He contributes regularly to Aperture, W, and Document. Untitled Anonymous, a book featuring found photographs from his collection of male images, was published in September by Andrew Roth’s PPP Editions.