Art & Physique Circa Bob & Tom
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives presents Art & Physique Circa Bob & Tom at the ONE Gallery in West Hollywood, an exhibition exploring the social and historical context surrounding erotic art and physique photography during the 1940s, 50s and 60s on the occasion of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s retrospective Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland. ONE’s exhibition explores how producers and consumers of physique photography negotiated silence and censorship to carve out a space for homoerotic content on the sidelines of dominant culture. Using photographer Bob Mizer, founder of the Athletic Model Guild (AMG), and Touko Laaksonen, aka “Tom of Finland,” as a fulcrum, the exhibition looks back to those who preceded the two, influential contemporaries, and more broadly examines how the circulation of underground erotic materials contributed to the rise of queer culture. Drawn from the collections of ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, the largest LGBTQ repository in the world, with additional materials on loan from the Tom of Finland Foundation, the exhibition includes numerous bodybuilding and beefcake magazines from the period, as well as original artworks, collages, primary documents, and a range of related ephemera.