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Rexwerk San Francisco, CA US
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  • Condition This uncirculated print is in pristine condition, with no stains, bends, cuts or creases; issued by the artist in a numbered edition with an embedded NFC certificate of authenticity and date of print issued by the artist.
  • Return and Refund Policy TBD

  • Item # 76230197
  • Qty Available 1
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Pristine uncirculated REX 8 ½ by 11 inch print on 300gsm gloss archival stock with pigment-based inks from the artist's original negative: Entitled TATTOO WORKS it was created in the summer of 1981 and completed on July 7th of that year. It was originally commissioned as a poster for the famous American tattoo artist Cliff Raven (1932-2001) for his Los Angeles tattoo parlor, called appropriately TATTOO WORKS. It first appeared in 1981 advertisements and ilater in 1986 on page 105 of the French limited edition hardcover anthology REXWERK (Pirates Associes : 50 Dessins par REX) published in Paris. Raven was considered a leading tattooist at this time, and began in the nineteen fifties in Chicago tattooing hula girls on sailors on shore leave. Tattooing was then socially unacceptable, with lower-class and criminal connotations in the minds of the general public. States even outlawed tattooists from plying their trade. Earty Tattooists applied crude linier drawings on fellow prisoners to pass their time in jail, These men were more machiine operators than "artists". Cliff Raven was of the new breed who were skilled artists first, and tattoo-machine operators second. He brought genuine skill to the artform and raised the standards by introducingt Tribal and intricate Japanese designs to American audiences. Gay leathermen were the first to adopt these stylish new designs: Today tattoos are ubiquitous, appearing on all sexes and ages, with the result they are now associated more with middle-class teenagers at the mall, than anything hinting of the dangerous counter-culture rebels tattoos once signified.  This uncirculated print is in pristine condition, with no stains, bends or creases; issued by the artist in a numbered edition exclusively through AdultStuffOnly with an embedded NFC certificate of authenticity and date of print by the artist.


REX is a living American artist who has been closely associated with homosexual fetish art since the late nineteen sixties in New York and San Francisco. Currently living in Europe, he avoids photographs and does not give interviews.  His ground-breaking drawings and virtuoso ink technique influenced two generations of gay culture through a series of self-published underground portfolios and the many commercial graphics he created for famous gay bars, tattoo parlors and nightclubs. The latter includes the posters, calendars, and t-shirts he designed for the legendary New York sex club the MINESHAFT. Beginning in the late nineteen sixties, before STONEWALL, his Greenwich Village work predated and influenced his contemporaries - such as Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) - and appeared in thousands of gay publications from 1972 until the present. His often politically incorrect subject matter served as lighting-rods for censorship battles throughout his career, making him persona non grata to the art establishment which to this day refuses to discuss his work in print.  As a consequence, he remains a shadowy figure in the art world.

On July 1, 1981, REX opened his own gallery REXWERK off Folsom in the formerly notorious South of Market district in San Francisco. Only ten days later it was destroyed in a massive fire at The Barracks bathhouse that was undergoing renovation across the street. The fire could not have come at a worse time, for that was the same month the first case of AIDS was diagnosed in the city of San Francisco. Nevertheless, REX’s work continued to appear regularly featured in wide variety of gay publications both in the US and Europe, such as Manifest, Drummer, Mach, Stroke, The Advocate, 18 Wheeler, Leather Journal, Cuir, Boner, Just Men, Torso, Inches, Instigator, Uncut, Straight To Hell and In Touch among many others.

A contemporary of the late Tom of Finland (1920-1991), REX's raw graphic ink work served as a dystopian contrast to TOM's idyllic non-threatening imagery rendered in the softer medium of lead pencil.  Over his long career REX has known such colleagues as Etienne (1933-1999), The Hun (1938-2029), Al Shapiro ("A Jay" 1932-1987), Harry Bush (1925–1994), Neal Bate ("Blade" 1916-1988), Michael Kirwin (1953-2018) and the British artist Bill Ward (1927-1996).  REX’s many commissions included posters for gay bars including The Lure and Rawhide in New York, The Powerhouse and Lone Star in San Francisco, and the DC Eagle in Washington as well as the infamous Saint parties, and PLEASURE CHEST and TASTE OF LEATHER sex emporiums. He has exhibited at Leslie-Lohman in New York, and had shows in Europe in Amsterdam, Berlin, Köln, and Antwerp.

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