What happens inside the world’s best homoerotic art space?

Photographer Stuart Sandford spent nine months at legendary live-in erotica Tom of Finland Foundation – and captured it on a Polaroid camera

Stuart Sandford's book of polaroids document his time at erotic art Tom of Finland Foundation. Courtesy of the artist

Stuart Sandford’s book of polaroids document his time at erotic art Tom of Finland Foundation.
Courtesy of the artist

“I’d actually never seen so many penises in one place in my entire life.” That’s how photographer Stuart Sandford described his latest stay at legendary homoerotic art  Tom of Finland Foundation. A two month trip turned into a nine month residency – where he assisted on the events there as well as working on his own projects – at the 104 year-old Craftsman style house, founded by Durk Dehner and esteemed pioneer of homeoerotic art Touko Laaksonen, dedicated to protecting, preserving and promoting erotica.

“I wanted a way to document my time and so I contacted the Impossible Project who sent me a Polaroid camera and a few boxes of film and I began to record aspects of my daily life there. The people, the places, the pets, the parties,” he says. “the book consists of the 42 Polaroids I took during my stay, some of them snapshots, some of them created specifically for the camera, but all of them authentic to the spirit of Tom of Finland.”

Turned into his latest book 1421 Laveta, the photos are a mixture of portraiture and daily observations in the venue’s rooms and surroundings, Sandford explains, “People live (in it) but it also operates as a museum and cultural space collecting, cataloguing, and disseminating erotic and/or sexually charged art, so it felt only fitting to present the two aspects of the space.”

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Courtesy of the artist

Coinciding with LGBT Heritage Month, images from the book, as well as his other recent works, are being displayed at LA-based gallery Edward Cella. The exhibition, Looking: Patrick Angus and Stuart Sandford, presents revolutionary realism painter Patrick Angus’s artwork alongside Sanford’s. Despite working 35 years apart, the artists are similar in their documentation of Los Angeles’ gay culture, with Angus’s paintings taking a unique look at the development of American society – depicting the longing and loneliness of the queer urban underclass scene in the 1980s. “I feel really honoured to be showing beside him,” Stanford explains. “The more I looked at his work, the more I saw the connection between our two practices – not to mention how talented he was.”

By  Dazed

 

 

Stuart Sandford “1421 Laveta Terrace”

A new hardcover book of 42 Polaroid reproductions photographed whilst Stuart Sandford was artist-in-residence at Tom of Finland Foundation, March to September 2014.

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Introduction by Durk Dehner, president and cofounder of ToFF, and a foreword by gallerist Edward Cella who is exhibiting the works as part of Looking: Patrick Angus and Stuart Sandford.

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Hardcover, linen bound, colour offset print
96 pages
42 plates
Dimensions: 7 x 7 in
Limited edition of 150
Signed and numbered
PRE-ORDER

 

“Looking: Patrick Angus and Stuart Sandford” | 20th June | LA

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Looking is an an exhibition focusing on the artworks of Patrick Angus (1953-1992) and Stuart Sandford (b. 1978), shown together for the first time anywhere. It will feature drawings, photographs and sculptures by these two artists, who despite working some thirty-five years apart, share in creating artworks that represent gay culture in Los Angeles across four decades. The exhibition coincides with LGBT Heritage Month and provides perspective on the changing times and social landscape in Los Angeles.

PATRICK ANGUS (1953-1992), Dejeuner sur L'herbe, 1/22/79, 1979, Graphite on paper, 13 1/2" x 17"

PATRICK ANGUS (1953-1992), Dejeuner sur L’herbe, 1/22/79, 1979, Graphite on paper, 13 1/2″ x 17″

Patrick Angus’s Los Angeles Drawings capture the artist’s experience discovering the city and its inhabitants at the beginning of his career as an openly gay artist. Angus created the drawings in 1979, inspired by David Hockney’s book “72 Drawings” which also features portraits of men together in everyday life. The figurative drawings evoke narratives and humor while illustrating an emerging modern gay culture that did not exist in the eyes of the general population at that time.

Patrick Angus was born in North Hollywood, CA and later moved to New York City where he was deemed “The Toulouse-Lautrec of Times Square” for his works depicting young male erotic dancers at the Gaiety Theatre. His paintings and drawings have come to represent urban gay life in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s.

 

STUART SANDFORD, Tom's pissoir (day) [From the 1421 Laveta Terrace Series, a residency at the Tom of Finland Foundation, 2014], Polaroid print, 4 1/4" x 3 1/2" in.

STUART SANDFORD, Tom’s pissoir (day) [From the 1421 Laveta Terrace Series, a residency at the Tom of Finland Foundation, 2014],
Polaroid print, 4 1/4″ x 3 1/2″ in.

Looking is Stuart Sandford’s debut exhibition at the gallery and will feature Polaroid’s that were created during his fellowship at the Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles, and other selected recent works. Building on an ongoing practice investigating unbridled adolescent narcissism and the self-reflexive nature of photography in the era of selfies, Facebook and Instagram; Sandford redeploys analog photographic process to document his experiences, preserving them for posterity with an unlikely medium. Each unique print captures an instantaneous moment – some ordinary, others erotic. Ultimately, Sandford creates a sequential portrait of a highly particular community, blurring the lines between artist and participant.

Stuart Sandford was born in Sheffield, England and studied at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. His videos, photographs, appropriations, and sculptures subvert the heteronormative art world from within. His recent exhibitions include Invisible Line Gallery, London, England; Gallery Daeppen, Basel, Switzerland; and at the Schwule Museum, Berlin, Germany with recent works going to Art Basel, Miami Beach, FL; and the Art on Paper Fair, New York, NY. Sandford is currently working on a book titled after the address of Tom of Finland’s famous residence, 1421 Laveta Terrace.

Angus’ and Sandford’s visual explorations into contemporary gay culture in Los Angeles were created during times of markedly different cultural and societal norms. Each of these two artists provide the viewer with unique historical, social, and cultural insights into one of LA’s thriving communities.

Reception: Saturday, 6-8p