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OVER A QUARTER CENTURY OF DEDICATION TO PROTECTING, PRESERVING AND PROMOTING EROTIC ART.

June 19 - September 8, 2013

London, England

Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
presents:

Keep Your Timber Limber
(Works on Paper)


TOM OF FINLAND (Finnish, 1920 – 1991),
Untitled, 1961, Graphite on paper
Tom of Finland Foundation
Permanent Collection #61.11
© 1961 Tom of Finland Foundation


TOM OF FINLAND (Finnish, 1920 – 1991),
Untitled, 1961, Graphite on paper
Tom of Finland Foundation
Permanent Collection #29.04
© 1959 Tom of Finland Foundation

The exhibition brings together the work of eight artists:

Judith Bernstein, Tom of Finland, George Grosz, Margaret Harrison,
Mike Kuchar, Cary Kwok, Antonio Lopez
and Marlene McCarty.

The ICA are holding a series of talks to coincide with the show,
including "Sex and Stereotypes" on 22 August, and
"From Style to Substance: Tom of Finland and Antonio Lopez", September 7.

Curated by Sarah McCrory, the exhibition draws on the way artists turned to the commercial realms of comics, fashion and illustration to revitalise drawing within the visual arts – many of the works in Keep Your Timber Limber (Works on Paper) were originally produced for a commercial context. One common aspect of these varied practices is a high level of technical skill – these are artists who often confounded critics of their subject matter unable to condemn their technique. Choosing to step outside the boundaries of social acceptability, the works in Keep Your Timber Limber (Works on Paper) comprise modest proposals and trenchant political gestures.

Keep Your Timber Limber (Works on Paper) explores how artists since the 1940s to the present day have used drawing to address ideas critical and current to their time, ranging from the politics of gender and sexuality to feminist issues, war, censorship and race. Stretching from fashion to erotica, the works can all be viewed as being in some way transgressive, employing traditional and commercial drawing techniques to challenge specific social, political or stylistic conventions.

Tom of Finland:
Crossing Over To The Realm Of Fine Art


TOM OF FINLAND, Untitled, 1976, Gouache on paper, 17.75” x 24.00”
Volker Morlock collection, © 1976 Tom of Finland Foundation

Words: Alice Lenkiewicz ©Artlyst 2013

I first came across the work of Tom of Finland at the Homotopia exhibition titled, “Fellow Travellers,” at Novas Contemporary Urban centre, Liverpool, in 2008. At the time, I was writing reviews for local events. Seeing his work was intriguing and memorable. My initial reaction, to his brand of homoeroticism was its freshness, as if it were something I’d never seen before, but actually taking into account my many years of exposure to the subject, I realised its familiarity and frequency, as subject matter in contemporary art today.

More on TOM's Blog

Institute of Contemporary Arts:
Exhibition Explores Politics, Gender and Sexuality


© 1962 Tom of Finland Foundation

'A new exhibition at London’s ICA titled Keep Your Timber Limber explores how artists since the 1940s to the present day have used drawing to address ideas critical and current to their time, ranging from the politics of gender and sexuality to feminist issues, war, censorship and race. Stretching from fashion to erotica, the works can all be viewed as being in some way transgressive, employing traditional and commercial drawing techniques to challenge specific social, political or stylistic conventions.

'Choosing to step outside the boundaries of social acceptability, the works in Keep Your Timber Limber (Works on Paper) comprise modest proposals and trenchant political gestures. At first glance, Tom of Finland’s erotic drawings from the 1950s and '60s seem to be simply pornographic, though they always endeavor – as part of a personal manifesto – to present the healthy sex lives of gay men. Unusual at the time, homosexual erotica often portrayed men as aggressive, angry or shameful. Tom of Finland’s beaming protagonists illustrate these unions as joyful ones. Tom of Finland’s drawings have since become an important beacon for many homosexual men – found in physique pamphlets they were their first introduction to a world of which they were a part.'

Artlyst, more on Tom's Blog

Tom of Finland‘While restricted to drawing, the exhibition succeeds in demonstrating the medium’s extraordinary versatility.’

Frieze

‘…tightly curated and thought-provoking; a convincing introduction to how an apparently humble discipline continues to make its voice heard.’

London Evening Standard

‘…the ICA’s Keep Your Timber Limber show takes an unblushing look at sexuality in art.’

Adrian Searle, Guardian

****

Critic’s Choice, Time Out London

"On the face of it, Keep Your Timber Limber is a works-on-paper show – an exhibition about drawing, which some may consider less relevant given recent excitements about shinier and more lavish art works. However, viewed through the ICA lens, the show and the drawings contained within should defy expectations."

The Independent, more on TOM's Blog

Sarah McCrory on Keep Your Timber Limber

From Style to Substance:
Tom of Finland and Antonio Lopez

September 7, 12 NOON - 6:15 PM

 

TOM OF FINLAND, Untitled (Preliminary drawing)
© 1975 Tom of Finland Foundation
Courtesy of Tom of Finland Foundation

  ANTONIO LOPEZ, Gianni Versace Campaign 1984
© The Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos
Courtesy of The Suzanne Geiss Company

Part of Keep Your Timber Limber (Works on Paper), this afternoon of talks and screenings centres on Tom of Finland and Antonio Lopez. Although the two had divergent artistic trajectories, both had roots in advertising and maintained a keen focus on fashion – this event will explore these ideas, as well as discuss the particular poignancy of each practice, from the context in which they were working to their enduring legacy.

Part I 12 PM– 4 PM

12 PM – Durk Dehner in conversation with Dominic Johnson
Durk Dehner (Tom of Finland Foundation), and Dominic Johnson (Queen Mary, University of London) give a contemporary perspective of the context in which Tom of Finland was working, from his peers.

2 PM – From the Margins to the Mainstream
Fiona Anderson (University of York), Adrian Rifkin, Gary Everett (Homotopia) and exhibiting artist Cary Kwok explore the appropriation of the imagery of marginalised queer sexual cultures into the more mainstream art world, via Tom of Finland.

3.15 PM - Philip Aarons in conversation with Raymond Cha
Philip Aarons in conversation with Raymond Cha In the context of the historical import of serial publications and printed matter in relation to the dissemination of queer culture, especially as an integral element of Tom of Finland’s early practice, Philip Aarons (author of Queer ‘Zines) and Raymond Cha discuss the recent second edition of Queer ‘Zines. Followed by a book signing.

Part II 4.30 PM– 6.15 PM

4.30 PM – Art vs. Illustration
Paul Caranicas (Antonio Lopez Foundation), Colin McDowell (fashion writer, journalist and academic) and Susan Dray (London College of Fashion) consider the notion of art vs. illustration in relation to the work of Antonio Lopez.

5.30 PM – Screening of Antonio’s World


About the gallery:
The ICA was founded by a group of radical artists and writers in 1946 as a space for experimental and challenging arts practice.

We are uniquely positioned on The Mall in central London in a Regency period building designed by John Nash. Since moving to its present location in 1968, the ICA has become the home of the British avant-garde and continues to foreground interdisciplinary art practice.

The Institute of Contemporary Arts is a registered charity, number: 236848, and a company limited by guarantee, registration number: 00444351. ICA Enterprises Limited is a company limited by shares, number: 01461527.

Institute of Contemporary Arts
Open Tuesday to Sunday 11:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Eshibitions are open 11:00
AM - 11:00 PM except Thursday 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Closed Mondays
The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH  Map 
020.7930.3647
Institute of Contemporary Arts Website  Exhibition Page

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INTERVIEW
"My whole life long I have done nothing but interpret my dreams of ultimate masculinity, and draw them." From an interview with Patrick Sarfati published in Rebel — Tom of Finland