This special preview from MOCAtv looks at the exhibition Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
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, currently on view at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, is 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 features 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 is presented with the full collaboration of the Bob Mizer Foundation, El Cerrito, and the Tom of Finland Foundation, Los Angeles.
Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland. Organized by MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson and Guest Co-Curator Richard Hawkins. MOCA Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90069. November 2 – January 26, 2014.