How to talk about Tom
in Bound together
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The third chapter discusses the recent reception of Tom of Finland, perhaps the best-known artist within and outside of leather communities, and asks the question: What does Tom of Finland’s work gain when it is collected by major art museum in the U.S.? In exploring a potential answer to this question, the historical influences, reception, and distribution of the artist’s work are detailed; it is a history that is now primarily told by the Tom of Finland Foundation. The Foundation, located in the house the artist lived in for a time, is one of the primary subjects of a video by artist Patrick Staff entitled The Foundation (2015). In it, Staff explores the limits of normative leather masculinities through verité footage of the daily activities at the Tom of Finland Foundation and a constructed studio scenario, wherein Staff and an older gay man (roughly fitting into the ‘gay daddy’ type) dance together and explore their differences.

Bound together

Leather, sex, archives, and contemporary art

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