Hell yes to anyone credited with "robbing straight culture of its most virile and masculine archetypes... and recasting them as unapologetic, self-aware, and boastfully proud enthusiasts of gay sex." In this case, that's Tom of Finland, who 20 years after his death gets his first mainstream museum exhibit, with Bob Mizer, at MOCA through January 26. It's a smart show. I think Tom's careful drawings are more enduring than Mizer's breakneck output of 60 photos a day, 7 days a week, for 50 years. Inevitably, some people will complain Tom of Finland is a mere illustrator, and then we can debate his universal moments in the way boosters discuss Norman Rockwell's work. (The men may have even more in common: Deborah Solomon's new American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell [Kindle] wonders about the impulse behind his homoerotic scenes, greatly irking his descendants.)
Along with the expected magnets and pins, the gift shop sells pristine vintage copies of Mizer's magazine Physique Pictorial. For the closest thing to a retrospective catalog, get Bob's World: The Life and Boys of A.M.G.'s Bob Mizer or go for Taschen's big boy Tom of Finland XXL.
This is a street banner in WeHo advertising the show. See the uncovered image to appreciate the boldness of the choice for a public poster.
By luck, we are making a habit of celebrating the internationalist Sandy Leonard's birthday by viewing appropriate art exhibits in Los Angeles. Last year it was Kubrick and Caravaggio. Read his blog.