If you think Tom of Finland is the forefather of homoerotic imagery, think again. American artist George Quaintance was painting naked hunks in suggestive poses a good twenty years prior.
Related: [NSFW] An Intimate Peek at the Bulkiest ‘Tom of Finland’ Exhibit Ever
Quaintance became the preeminent artist of the male physique in the 1930s and 40s, with his campy, vivid and butter-y creations depicting glorious Greek gods, suntanned lovers, strapping cowboys and chiseled athletes. Depicting full-frontal images of penises would have been illegal at the time, so Quaintance was also careful to obscure a man’s most prized possession with a strand of loose clothing or an obtrusive shadow.
Of Quaintance’s steamy images, artist and designer John Coulthart wrote: “Quaintance’s world is a largely female-free dreamscape of perfectly-muscled glamour boys showing their bodies to one another but never doing anything so salacious as kissing. This is a utopia of good clean fun and fifty years ago was more than enough to pack an erotic charge for men starved of homoerotic imagery. From our perspective today it looks rather innocent; even the bulges in their jeans are restrained by comparison with the later excesses of Tom of Finland.”
To celebrate the 80 years since Quaintance first gave us his baby oiled bodies and denim-covered bulges, artbook publisher Taschen has put together the first public show of artwork by Quaintance at their L.A. gallery. The exhibit titled, The Flamboyant Life and Forbidden Art of George Quaintance, is open to the public until August 31. If you can’t make it this time around, you can also purchase the George Quaintance artbook by Taschen on Amazon. Get a glimpse at some of his most arousing artwork below.