The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles is preparing an exhibition of work by drawer Touko Laaksonen, better known as “Tom of Finland”, and photographer . The exhibition is scheduled to open November 2, 2013 and run through January 26, 2014. The Curve (official MOCA blog) has a preview article, “Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland”.
Tom of Finland is the creator of some of the most iconic and readily recognizable imagery of post-war gay culture. He produced thousands of images beginning in the 1940s, robbing straight homophobic culture of its most virile and masculine archetypes (bikers, hoodlums, lumberjacks, cops, cowboys, and sailors) and recasting them—through deft skill and fantastic imagination—as unapologetic, self-aware, and boastfully proud enthusiasts of gay sex. His most innovative achievement though, worked out in fastidious renderings of gear, props, settings, and power relations inherent therein, was to create the depictions that would eventually become the foundation of an emerging gay leather culture.
Bob Mizer began photographing as early as 1942, but unlike many of his contemporaries in the subculture of illicit physique nudes, Mizer took the Hollywood star-system approach and founded the Athletic Model Guild in 1945, a film and photo studio specializing in handsome natural-bodied (as opposed to exclusively muscle-bound, the norm of the day) boy-next-door talent. In his myriad satirical prison dramas, sci-fi flix, domesticated bachelor scenarios, and elegantly captivating studio sessions, Mizer photographed and filmed over 10,000 models at a rough estimate of 60 photos a day, seven days a week for almost 50 years. Mizer always presented a fresh-faced and free, unashamed and gregarious, totally natural and light-hearted approach to male nudity and intimate physical contact between men.
This post at The Curve confusingly does not mention that the Mizer/Finland exhibition is NOT OPEN YET. So don’t head to the museum just yet. The show opens November 2.
Also at MOCA.org, thirteen jpeg teasers from the show. And here’s two more:
The Bob Mizer half of the show ran at NYC gallery Invisible-Exports a while back, reviewed here in the NY Times.
Two different Tom of Finland shows ran in London earlier this year, reviewed here at Blouin Artinfo.