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OVER A QUARTER CENTURY OF DEDICATION TO PROTECTING, PRESERVING AND PROMOTING EROTIC ART.
ARCHIVE'S FIRST EXHIBITIONS
Permanent Collection Gets the Spotlight
(L) “Fantasies `86” by Fritz Lindeman is one of the diverse group of artworks seen at the Tom of Finland Co. Gallery exhibit

(R) True to Tom's legacy, humor is often a component of erotic art as seen in “First Blowjob” by Felix Irizarry

A portion of the Tom of Finland Foundation Archives are on exhibit at the Tom of Finland Company Gallery in Silverlake, Los Angeles through the 10th of October, and during June, nine of our artists were exhibited in San Francisco (see the article below). These are the first times that the collection is getting official exhibitions of its own after all these years of just being part of a Foundation event or a sidelight of an exhibition focused on Tom's work. President Durk Dehner would like to see more exhibitions of this sort given to the sections of the archives devoted to other artists, especially since the collection has grown to include the work of well over two hundred artists which cover the full gamut of erotic art of every persuasion, form and format at a total value of several million dollars (including Tom's work). Curators are invited to survey the Foundation's archives or if you know of a suitable venue in your area for such an exhibition, please contact the Foundation.


FOUNDATION ARTISTS HEADLINE SF EXHIBIT
by Matthew Pawlowski, Curator

ESP Gallery is an alternative, contemporary arts exhibition space located in San Francisco's Mission District. During the month of June it displayed a show, “EROTIC: Works from the Archives of the Tom of Finland Foundation”, which generated some critical dissent amid much audience approval. Here is the gallery owner's personal view of the experience.

After visiting the Foundation archives in March and meeting with Durk Dehner, I chose the work and curated a show based around the idea of `outsider artists' by which I mean those artists, usually untrained, who work extensively on a certain genre or idea. I chose 9 artists whose work I found to be exceptional in its quality and sincerity.

In this project, I was influenced also by the work of an outsider artist, Henry Darger. Darger, although emotionally troubled, created numerous large scale works depicting a fantasy story about an army of children who war with their adult oppressors. His works are often sexual in nature and have created quite a stir as they tour art centers throughout the US. Much is made of Darger's emotional troubles but I do not necessarily connect those type of problems with outsider art. The artists who exhibited in “EROTIC”, especially those artists who live in more rural settings, use their art as an outlet beyond mere creative expression. The fact that they are physically cut off from extensive interactions with fellow gay men (and the art world, thankfully), comes through in the highly erotically charged nature of their art. The expressiveness and obsessiveness (what John Waters calls a good obsession) of this work is what makes it so amazing and sincere and why I consider it, for lack of a better term, `outsider'.

I was a little weirded out by the critics' response to the work. One referred to the work of Tom of Finland as `amateurish', even though the press release stated that Tom was now being collected by major museums and signage in the gallery gave information about his educational background and professional status. The article in ArtBeat in the San Francisco Guardian seemed a little condescending. The writer focused on the personal backgrounds of the artists and tried to make them seem odd. As I have talked with many of the artists and they all were kind, sincere and helpful, I felt a little protective about having someone who was writing about them make assumptions and value judgments.

ESP usually shows contemporary conceptual work by emerging California artists. I think another reason why I wanted to do this show was because I have an interest in work outside the mainstream, work by artists who often don't have opportunities to exhibit their work. I thought EROTIC would be a good showcase for that reason.

by Bruce Adams

by Sultan a.k.a. John Darcy Noble

by John Stuart Wharam


TOM OF FINLAND FOUNDATION 1999

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NAKED MEN
“I almost never draw a completely naked man. He has to have at least a pair of boots or something on. To me, a fully dressed man is more erotic than a naked one. A naked man is, of course beautiful, but dress him in black leather or a uniform — ah, then he is more than beautiful, then he is sexy!”
— Tom of Finland