Tom of Finland’s erotic illustrations might be having a renaissance thanks to the new biopic of the illustrator and fashion lines and products adorned with his artwork, but Tom of Finland was inspired by a lesser known—but just as important—gay artist: George Quaintance.
Quaintance was born in 1902, and was active in the art scene from the 1930s to his death in 1957, around the time Tom of Finland started taking off.
In 2010 Taschen released a book of Quaintance’s work. In the collection the authors explained that he was “a vaudeville dancer, a coiffeur designer, window dresser, magazine cover artist, photographer, portraitist, and ultimately the first great physique artist. George Quaintance, the Master Painter of the Male Physique, was out in an age when out was not only risky, but largely illegal…”
It’s Nice That reports that Quaintance only produced around 55 works “all of which were commissioned by gay publishing pioneer Bob Mizer for the Physique Pictorial.”
Quaintance died of a heart attack in 1957, but he continues to influence gay artists to this day. His art was traded by private collectors for years and Taschen hosted a gallery of his work in L.A. in 2015.
“Quaintance was gifted with so much drive and artistic talent that he had the ability to transcend the puritanical restrictions of the times and leave us something of his daring imagination in his paintings,” The Voice stated in 1982.
Even 60 years after his death, Quaintance still inspires gay men to imagine a Wild West fantasy full of macho cowboys and Native Americans thanks to his sexually-charged oil paintings.
Scroll through below to see more of Quaintance’s work.
h/t: Dangerous Minds