TOM OF FINLAND, The first American museum exhibition at MOCA

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Artist Richard Hawkins tours Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland, the first American museum exhibition devoted to the art of Mizer (1922-1992) and Touko Laaksonen, a.k.a. “Tom of Finland” (1920-1991), at MOCA Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. Hawkins, who guest co-curated the exhibition with MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson, examines selections from the first-ever presentation of catalogue boards of Mizer’s Athletic Model Guild studios, which to him are enthusiastic celebrations of everyday youth and beauty, as well as Tom of Finland’s pencil drawings and pen-and-ink illustrations of radical sexuality. As an artist who has produced collage work, Hawkins pays particular attention to Finland’s collage binders, which appear to investigate icons of popular culture for their innate “hotness.” In light of the sexual freedoms still denied in Russia, the “titillating, thrilling and sex-positive” work created by Mizer and Tom of Finland decades ago remains as relevant today.

Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland, was on view at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, as the first American museum exhibition devoted to the art of Bob Mizer (1922–1992) and Touko Laaksonen, aka “Tom of Finland” (1920–1991), two of the most significant figures of twentieth century erotic art and forefathers of an emergent post-war gay culture. The exhibition featured a selection of Tom of Finland’s masterful drawings and collages, alongside Mizer’s rarely seen photo-collage “catalogue boards” and films, as well as a comprehensive collection of his groundbreaking magazine Physique Pictorial, where drawings by Tom were first published in 1957. Organized by MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson and guest co-curator Richard Hawkins, the exhibition was presented with the full collaboration of the Bob Mizer Foundation, El Cerrito, and the Tom of Finland Foundation, Los Angeles.

Richard Hawkins
Richard Hawkins (b. 1961, Mexia Texas) is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He is represented by Corvi-Mora, London; Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Berlin and Koln; Greene-Naftali, New York and Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles. His first book of fiction, “Fragile Flowers”, was released by Les Presses du Reel in Fall 2013. In October 2013, he premiered his first solo French museum presentation, “glimmer”, at Le Consortium Dijon and in 2012 he was a Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy, Berlin. Upcoming, Hawkins’s butoh-inspired collages will be the focus of a solo exhibition at Tate Liverpool, “Hijikata Twist”, curated by Darren Pih. His research into the Los Angeles painter Tony Greene will be shown at the 2014 Whitney Biennial in an exhibition co-curated with Catherine Opie.

The exhibition was on view through January 26, 2014.


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