March 28 - May 25, 2014
New York, NY

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
Stroke: From Under the Mattress
To the Museum Wall

Car Park, 1999, Watercolor marker with ink on paper,
14 x 11. Collection of Leslie Lohman Museum

Opening Reception March 28, 6:00 - 9:00 PM

Included in the exhibition will be artwork by:
Blade (Neel Bate), Michael Breyette, Michael Broderick, Harry Bush,
Colt (Jim French), Oliver Frey, Beau (Kevin King), Michael Kirwan,
Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen), Antonio (Antonio Lopez), David Martin,
Jim McMullin, Domino (Donald Merrick), Kent (Kent Neffendorf),
Olaf (Olaf Odegaard), Mel Odom, Etienne (Dominic Orejudos),
Benôit Prévot, George Quaintance, George Stravrinos, REX,
Robert W. Richards, Richard Rosenfeld, The Hun (William Schmelling),
and Bastille (Frank Webber).

A historical retrospective of sexy and erotic illustrations by artists who made work for Gay male magazines from the 1950s to the 1990s. Curated by New York-based illustrator Robert W. Richards, Stroke features 80 original illustrations by 25 artists, featuring original illustrations which appeared in the magazines, along with other works of art that have never been seen publicly.

In the 1950s, a number of magazines became available on drugstore magazine racks and newsstands and were distributed nationwide. Early titles included Grecian Guild Pictorial, Tomorrow’s Man and Physique Pictorial, and featured the work of great artists like Tom of Finland and Bob Mizer, both who were recently the subject of a major exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles.

By the late 1960s, with the impact of the “sexual revolution,” rise of feminism, and the Black Cat and Stonewall Inn riots, the demand for the magazines mushroomed. Later titles included Blueboy, Torso, Honcho, Mandate and InTouch. Each issue typically featured masterful illustrations by major artists such as Antonio Lopez, Mel Odom, George Stravrinos, Richard Rosenfeld and others. Many of these artists also made work for mainstream publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Times and Playboy.

“This work has never been collected in one museum exhibition before,” says Museum Director Hunter O’Hanian. “What Robert Richards has done is pull together important work that played a vital role in people’s lives. This exhibition is important for people who remember the magazines. They will get to see the some of the original illustrations they loved years ago and some recent work. For those in their 20s and 30s, this exhibition will be an opportunity to understand the way that Gay men explored their own sexuality and intimacy a generation ago. Everyone will be moved by the gloriousness of art and the impact it had on so many lives.”

From The New York Times Style Magazine:

On View | The Secret History of Homoerotic Illustration

Before Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs and Lady Gaga videos mainstreamed homoerotic imagery, some of fashion’s most talented illustrators had shadow careers from the 1950s through the 1990s drawing for underground gay magazines such as Physique Pictorial and, later, more overt porn glossies such as Mandate, Honcho and Torso.

The Internet, with its abundance of porn, killed those titles, but a diverse trove of illustrations from their pages will be on display beginning Friday at the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in SoHo, in the winkingly titled show Stroke: From Under the Mattress to the Museum Walls. Curated by Robert Richards, himself a longtime illustrator of fashion and homoerotic imagery, the show aims to exhibit “quality artwork that had to be hidden away for many years,” says Hunter O’Hanian, the museum’s director.

More on TOM's Blog

"Exhibit Showcases The Erotic Beauty of Vintage
Gay Magazine Art"

In the 1950s, art admirers were hard-pressed to find images of gay male life adorning the walls of major galleries and museums. Instead, the beautiful work of photographers and illustrators like Bob Mizer and Tom of Finland were often exhibited within the pages of gay magazines. Diverse depictions of private male life particularly erotic life were thus made available only to the people who knew where to find it.

  Biker Fuck, 1965  
TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen).
Biker Fuck, 1965, Pencil on paper, 8.25 x 11.5 in. Leonard Paoletti Collection.
© Tom of Finland Foundation

More on TOM's Blog

The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is the first state-chartered museum devoted to LGBTQ artists and audiences; the Museum is a unique non-profit arts institution and is the successor to the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, which has been supporting gay and lesbian visual arts for more than twenty years, actively demonstrating that queer art exists not in a vacuum but as an integral part of both contemporary art and art history.

The Museum has a considerable permanent collection of art, including, Andy Warhol, Duncan Grant, Delmas Howe, Jean Cocteau, Deni Ponty, Sonia Melara, Cassandra, Marsden Hartley, Horst, Bastille, Blade, Tom of Finland, Michael Kirwan, and many more.

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 12 - 6 PM
Closed on Mondays, major holidays and between shows.

26 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10013 · Map · 212.431.2609

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art Website

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“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