While they often presented themselves as bodybuilders’ publications, their chuckle-prompting titles — Torso, Adonis, Honcho, Mandate — didn’t lie. Gay men’s magazines of decades past were bought by gay men who wanted to look at the erotic illustrations of well- built male bodies therein. Because any- one known to possess such material in the homophobic 1950s and 1960s could experience serious consequences, men hid the magazines under their mat- tresses. These illustrations have now inspired a traveling exhibition, Stroke: From Under the Mattress to the Museum Wall. Curated by notable erotic artist Robert W. Richards and orig- inating at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, the popular show contains 24 original illustrations that ap- peared in gay magazines from the 1950s to the 1990s. It also looks at how gay men, forced into the closet during those decades, used these pictures to explore their sexuality intimately. It additionally serves as a showcase for the artists in- volved. On view are works by two dozen top artists of the times, including Touko Laaksonen (Tom of Finland), Antonio Lopez (Antonio), and David Martin.More
Like an acid dream of rocket-powered childhood fantasies, the art at Davis & Davis' Planet X is very bright. When baby boomers were babies, and dreaming of the outer space they would so psychedel-ize and study later on, they were free to imagine it however they wanted. Guided by the weird comic-book artists and designers of toys (themselves of the greatest gen) it seemed they wanted bubble-helmets, mostly. Also monsters, pastel deserts, and shiny chrome ray guns. It was so pretty! But it was dangerous. The photos at Planet X are of miniature moonscapes populated by toy guys and spaceships, at once bombed-out and dust-free. Plenty of artists use the oversaturated tableau form in their photography, but this duo of Scott and Denise twists and turns inside that form, improvising and leading the viewer's eye right to the pertinent details.
April 7-23, 2011