Keep Your Timber Limber (Works on Paper), opening at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London on June 19, explores how artists since the 1940s to the present day have used drawing to address ideas critical and current to their time. With themes ranging from the politics of gender and sexuality to war and race, the exhibition brings together the work of eight artists – including the legendary gay artist Tom of Finland (1920-1991).
Stretching from fashion to erotica, the works can all be viewed as being in some way transgressive, employing traditional and commercial drawing techniques to challenge specific social, political or stylistic conventions.
Curated by Sarah McCrory, the exhibition draws on the way artists turned to the commercial realms of comics, fashion and illustration to revitalise drawing within the visual arts - many of the works in Keep Your Timber Limber (Works on Paper) were originally produced for a commercial context. One common aspect of these varied practices is a high level of technical skill - these are artists who often confounded critics of their subject matter unable to condemn their technique.
Choosing to step outside the boundaries of social acceptability, the works in Keep Your Timber Limber (Works on Paper) comprise modest proposals and trenchant political gestures.
The exhibition brings together the work of eight artists: Judith Bernstein, Tom of Finland, George Grosz, Margaret Harrison, Mike Kuchar, Cary Kwok, Antonio Lopez and Marlene McCarty.
Tom of Finland is the acknowledged master of homoerotic art whose images of masculine men helped to smash stereotypes and create new diversity. Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991) by his real name, Tom of Finland has had a substantial effect on gay culture of the late 20th century. He’s one of the most renowned Finnish artists internationally.
Please note that this exhibition contains adult material.