David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to announce a solo presentation of historic work by Tom of Finland in For Your Infotainment: Hudson and Feature Inc., a special section of Frieze New York 2018. Curated by Matthew Higgs, the section celebrates the legacy of the influential, maverick dealer Hudson (1950-2014) and the artists he showed at his gallery Feature Inc. in Chicago and New York. For Your Infotainment highlights Hudson's uncompromising vision and commitment to personal aesthetic principles.
Hudson presented solo shows of Tom of Finland's work in the late 1980s and early 1990s and was an early advocate for the exhibition of his drawings in a contemporary art context. This presentation will include works made in a variety of media, among them rare pen and ink pictures, highly detailed pencil renderings, and preparatory drawings that reflect both the artist's virtuosic hand and the development of his thinking and passions.
Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) was one of the most influential creators of homoerotic imagery in the 20th century. His work can be approached along several interpretive lines, each of which points to the revolutionary nature of his project. He gave form to an imaginative universe that in turn helped fuel real-world liberation movements and enabled gay men to access their strength in new ways. And for people of all genders and orientations, his vision of pleasure reaffirms the centrality of sexuality and the body throughout human endeavor. Tom's drawings therefore function, on the one hand, as joyful images of what true freedom looks like.
The physicality in the scenes Tom depicts finds a parallel in the beauty and sophistication of the drawings themselves. In this respect, his work can be seen as a major contribution to the development of figurative art and the representation of the male body. This presentation will enable viewers to see how his techniques evolved over time and according to the contexts for which they were being made. It includes works produced over a 45-year span (1944 to 1989); some are delicately shaded tableaux that would eventually appear in reproduction in underground publications, while others are faster, looser drawings that feel more private and less formal. In all cases, the works reveal Tom to be a master draftsman whose passion for both his medium and his subject matter enabled his project to become a powerful cultural force.
In 2015, Artists Space, New York, organized The Pleasure of Play, the most comprehensive survey exhibition of Tom of Finland's work in the US, which traveled to Kunsthalle Helsinki in 2016. Other recent and forthcoming solo and two-person exhibitions devoted to the world of Tom of Finland include TOM House: The Work and Life of Tom of Finland, Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2018); The Man Behind Tom of Finland: Loves and Lives, Salon Dahlmann, Berlin (2017); Sealed with a Secret: Correspondence of Tom of Finland, Postimuseo, Tampere, Finland (2014); Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2013); and Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, Stockholm (2012). Recent group exhibitions include Slash: In Between the Normative and the Fantasy, Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, Latvia (2015); Abandon the Parents, National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen (2014); Keep Your Timber Limber (Works on Paper), Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2013); and We the People, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York (2012). Tom of Finland's artworks are featured in the public collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. The Tom of Finland Foundation, dedicated to preserving Tom's legacy and supporting erotic art since 1984, operates out of the Tom of Finland House (TOM House), the artist's former shared residence and now a Historic-Cultural Monument in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.