What is this project all about?
REX is an American artist, whose career began in New York in the
mid-nineteen sixties. His meticulous black and white homoerotic
drawings, rendered in a pointillist pen and ink technique, first
appeared at a seminal moment in the sixties, when photographic
pornography was still illegal but drawings and stories were
protected by Supreme Court “free speech” rulings in the United
His art was showcased in a number of pioneering gay American publications such as THE ADVOCATE and DRUMMER MAGAZINE. However, it was a series of hardcore self-published portfolios circulating underground in America and Europe, that cemented his reputation as a cult artist of esoteric imagery over the past five decades. His most internationally recognized work was a series of iconic posters and t-shirt designs for the legendary New York sex club THE MINESHAFT. A limited edition portfolio of his work – REXWERK - was published in Paris in 1986 and a hardcover retrospective, REX – VERBOTEN, was published by BRUNO GMÜNDER in Berlin 2012. As a chiaroscuro illustrator of perverse and psychologically disturbing images, he was branded “persona non grata” by the American art establishment which has consistently refused to acknowledge his fecund imagery. In 2016 SERVICEWERK-BERLIN mounted an exhibition of 51 large prints spanning the past four decades of his work during FOLSOM EUROPE. The exhibited artworks were later issued as large limited edition fine-art-prints available for purchase. The artist resides in the Netherlands where he continues to work. [website: [www.rexwerk.com]
This crowdfunding project was set up to promote a 50 year retrospective (1968-2018) of work by the iconic artist REX. Visitors to the REX exhibition in Antwerp next month will have to confront their inner philosophical conflict between - what is art and what is pornography”? Do both concepts come to reflect each other at a certain point? Through his explicit and unambiguous images, REX has combined both the mutual focus on "desire" as a subject matter. His defiant stance as an outsider, misfit and loose canon in the art world has forever branded him as a trend-setting artist whose influence has been felt in both worlds of art and pornography. Still in our midst today, yet somehow not really "among" us, REX has created an alternate universe on paper that challenges the arbitrarily restrictive laws of Church and State imposed on sexual activity.
Who would have thought his imagery from the sexual "dark ages" of their creation, would morph a half century later into an international fetish movement? What began as an homage to a small tribe of alpha males committed to a hyper-masculine lifestyle, would later serve as the inspiration for a world-wide brotherhood of sexually liberated men. The mission of SERVICEWERK is to provide a space for this marginalized work to be shown in public for the first time. The "obscene" work of REX was decades ahead of its time, and a precursor of our sexual world today. The Antwerp exhibition showcases the art that for decades terrified galleries and publishers alike as taboo subject matter.
The work represents one man's lifelong dedication to free speech and revolutionary art rooted in the unvarnished truth about ourselves. Many newcomers to REX will remain contemplative after their initial exposure to this "hidden" art and introduction to the complex underworld of the artist known as REX.
[More information may be found at [www.servicewerk.de]
What is the project goal and who is the project for?
This project's objective is to make the "impossible"
possible. After a half century of creating iconic fetish art for
the gay community, REX images have become ubiquitous around the
world as "anonymous art" that is endlessly copied and
circulated online without permission, payment or credit for decades
now. Now in his vintage years, this much censored and ignored
artist is to be honored with this rare European exhibit which
highlights five decades of his pioneering contribution to gay
For the first time ever, Antwerp's internationally recognized LEATHERPRIDE at the DARKLANDS festival will showcase over 200 images from his incredible career in art. The majority of the art on display has never been allowed public exhibition due to government censorship and the scourge of political correctness.
Why would you support this project?
In the nineteen sixties and seventies, his exquisitely detailed
"scenes" served as the aesthetic blueprint for what
today's high style fetish scene has become. It has been said that
REX served as the prophetic “art director” whose visionary art
pointed the way for future generations of gay men in the decades
that followed. His art was unique in his time for crossing the
Rubicon between sexual fantasy and sexual reality. When his work
began in the draconian age of homosexual persecution in the
nineteen-fifties, no one could have dared imagine that one day
these forbidden pornographic images would one day be exhibited in
public for thousands of men to see and enjoy. Among the aspects of
his work which made it so "unique", was the inimitable
quality of his virtuoso pen-and-ink technique which to this day
leaves his contemporaries in the dust.
His contributions in terms of both artistic originality and enduring popularity has only been matched by the legendary Tom of Finland. The technical “tour de force” of his provocative images were originally issued in self-printed portfolios circulated undercover and past from hand-to-hand until decades later they found a following worldwide. Due to the subversive nature of his work the artist never focused on money or celebrity, dedicating his talent instead to creating meticulous "visions" of a forbidden lifestyle that today--a half-century later--we now take for granted as acceptable.
How many gay men today can trace their fetish roots back to a REX "vision", laid out on paper before their incredulous eyes? Now is the time the gay and art world give something in return to this "forgotten" pioneering artist who devoted his craft to advancing the acceptance of gay lifestyles, with such psychological and aesthetic flair they could not be ignored easily by the "straight" art establishment. By honoring his accomplishments and supporting this crowdfunding you are offered a rare opportunity to become a genuine part of "gay history" by showing your respect for a pioneering artist who was instrumental in bringing both fetish rituals and gay art to the prominence that it holds today.
How will we use the money if the project is successfully funded?
We have deliberately chosen a very short deadline to raise this
money. In just thirty days we hope to reach our set goal. With the
full amount raised we will be financing the production of
polyester-based light-weight walls which will enable the REX
RETROSPECTIVE following its premier in ANTWERP, to travel around
the globe. This will include the commercial work of REX (for
legendary bars, sex clubs, leather shops and merchandise) was not
used in the current exhibition. However, a side-brochure will also
be produced, showcasing the most popular of these commercial REX
works, which all supporters will automatically receive a copy of
it. The remaining money will be used to increase the quality of the
stand at the DARKLANDS fair.
After "giving" his art to all of us for decades for mere pennies on average, the artist finally has an opportunity to profit directly from his work. The art was "pirated" for decades in the past, when gay art was both illegal and considered "worthless", dating back to an era when gay artists were labeled "criminals" by governments and "heretics" by churches.
Any remaining money raised will be donated to the artist directly, as it is our intention to help secure his old age and allow him to continue producing new work that supports the gay fetish/kink community.
Who are the people behind the project?
The REXWORLD 50th Anniversarly Retrospective exhibition is the
latest project produced by www.servicewerk.com in
co-operation with www.leatherpride.be. Our team has
successfully realized outstanding queer art projects in the past,
such as the international photo tour detailing the amazing story of
the fall and rise of the legendary pioneering Beefcake photographer
John Palatinus [www.john-palatinus.com] and the first Berlin
exhibition of famous New York gay illustrator Robert W. Richards
[www.robert-w-richards.com] With these two professional
exhibitions, SERVICEWERK established itself as a bridge between
these long ignored queer artists and the so-called "art
This project has been created by curator Bernd Althans and his SERVICEWERK team. All staff working with the REX exhibitions and retrospective are doing this on a voluntary basis. We are indebted to the TOM OF FINLAND FOUNDATION, for inviting us to their 2017 Art-Fair in Los Angeles and to introduce our REX WORLD concept to an American audience. Film and photographic rights are granted exclusively to photographer Mark Esper [London, Berlin]. Our media-partners are ALPHATRIBE and INSTIGATOR magazines. Among our team, you will find an ever increasing group of businesses and individuals who in the past have contributed the support which has made Antwerp Fetish Pride such an outstanding event, attracting visitors from all over the world.