Secret Gay Box. Tom of Finland Foundation. Los Angeles. Photos by EMS

John Wolf Fine Art is pleased to announce an exhibition entitled, Secret Gay Box, in its second iteration occuring at the Tom of Finland Foundation. 

Like Tracey Emin’s “My Bed.” this Secret Gay Box will encapsulate a moment in the life of an individual—but rather than doing this through a single object or work, it will use a variety of works in different mediums from different times to create the ethos of adolescent formation; a time characterized by flux and uncertainty. It will be a powerful comment on the construction of identity through collected, foraged, sometimes fiercely protected influences. 

This is how the show’s curator, John Wolf, describes his childhood: “Growing up in an Evangelical Christian home, being gay was a sin and a flaw, something only Jesus could change.  So as a child, the ability to read and explore my nascent sexuality was not only fearful but had to be hidden — in a secret gay box.” This exhibition will revive that “box” in a way that will be both personal and visceral for Wolf himself, and for the viewer. 

John Wolf is known for his self-aware use of unconventional space. He’s given legendary work by artists like Jenny Holzer and Robert Mapplethorpe new meaning by placing them in unusual contexts, like in the show “Human Condition”— which took place in an abandoned hospital in a soon-to-gentrify part of Los Angeles. His curatorial history will help him to reinvent the ethos of his Secret Gay Box in the non-traditional exhibition space of the Tom of Finland Foundation.  

Tom of Finland (1920-1991), born Touko Valio Laaksonen, was a Finnish artist who deeply influenced gay culture of the 20th Century through his highly stylized and very masculine homoerotic art. His work faced early scrutinty and censorship from the Government, forcing much of his work to remain private or unpublished. In the 1970s male nudity was largely decriminalized allowing more of Tom’s work to be distributed and published. The Tom of Finland Foundation in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles was the artist’s home. The house was constructed in 1911 and is a protected historical location.

Like Wolf’s childhood box, this space will be one where art hides in plain sight, where people don’t think to look. The space itself as well as the artworks in it will embrace the creativity that it can take to effectively conceal oneself—the eclectic aesthetic of the secret collection. The images and objects will embody queerness in its most subtle and most overt forms. Think deeply personal images of forbidden sexualities, in the form perhaps of Polaroids or photo booth photos; Vintage or even ancient Images that prove that queerness has been around as long as humanity; Objects that speak to a very personal and unconventional aesthetic sense, that simultaneously are deeply personal to the possessor but communicate something illicit to anyone looking in from the outside, who happens to catch a glimpse. 

Featuring works by: Patrick Angus, Paul Cadmus, Hossein Edalatkhah, Jose Gonzalo Carcia Munoz, Don Joint, Mike Kuchar, Joseph La Piana, Robert Mapplethorpe, Mark Beard, Matt Siegle, Michale Stamm, Lucas Michael, Rashaad Newsome, Justin Olerud, Raymond Pettibon, Jack Pierson, Puppies Puppies, Andrew Salgado, Stuart Sandford, Andy Warhol, Brian Andrew Whiteley, and David Wojnarowicz. 



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EMS select images. More upon request.