The World of Tom

Original works
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Posted 10/20/2008

"The Bastion of Freedom"

In December 2006, I — Durk Dehner — was in attendance at the Gallerie Richard in Paris, France. My purpose was to assist with the arrangements and opening of a one-man exhibition of Tom of Finland’s work. One of the visitors, who is a friend to the gallery owners Jean-Luc and Takako Richard, was the contemporary French artist photographer, Rachel Laurent.

Her face beamed with enthusiasm upon her arrival inside the gallery. She took a panoramic view of the works that awaited her. In welcoming Ms. Laurent, I inquired to the reason she contained so much pleasure in being at this exhibition and she told me, “I have arrived at the bastion of freedom. Displayed here are the works of a man that didn’t cower or inhibit himself in his expression of what was in his heart. He represents freedom for all of us.”

–Durk Dehner

Above is an interview with the artist Tom of Finland and his ever expanding European tour. The next opening is in Liverpool, England (the European Union's Cultural Capitol) as part of the City's biennial festival in 2008. Exhibition dates: September 20 thru November 30, 2008.

Visit the Homotopia festivals website.

Link to a slide show of the artwork in the European show.

A major spread done by British magazine QX celebrating 50 years of Tom of Finland in print. Pages 22 - 36.

Tom is in London Times, too. On November 3, 2008 they gave him a full page as Mark Simpson writes about how Tom of Finland influenced his life and society in general.

Tom of Finland: The Parfum

We have established a new license with the French parfumer, Etat Libre d'Orange.

Visit their dirty drawing gallery and see how the French promote Tom of Finland.

Photos from the July 2008 launch party in Paris.

The parfum is presently being sold at Harvey Nichols in the UK.

Tom Frangrance Harvey Nichols UK
Photo by Henning von Berg

Creating a Renaissance in the Erotic Arts

Tom of Finland, the man, is no longer with us, none the less his legacy — his art — continues to expand its audiences. Tom's work gives a message of encouragement to all who indulge in the luxury of his vision: life is more comfortable and less inhibited when we are naturally ourselves.

In the Western world, homosexual communities have been celebrating the integration of our sexuality in our lives and now it is our responsibility to carry this forward in this new century, as it was in Greco-Roman times.

The Tom of Finland Foundation (ToFF) has been part of creating a renaissance in the erotic arts, providing the support and recognition for thousands of artists and their integration into the world of fine art collecting. In a culture that has been breed from the puritan ethics of repression and suppression there is a force to negate the inclusion of the homosexual into society. We know what an important part we have. We rejoice. And, with Tom of Finland, we take it very seriously.

Here is some material on Taschen's Tom of Finland XXL book that's in production. The book contains an extensive introduction by Edward Lucie-Smith and essays by Brendt Arell (director of the Kiasma museum in Finland), Armstead Maupin, Todd Oldman, Dian Hanson, Holly Johnson, John Waters, and Durk Dehner.

This retrospective art book is expected to come out in early 2009.

Video clip on producing the Tom of Finland XXL Book.

Titles on Tom of Finland from Taschen.
A few examples of pieces that have been, or are, for sale through gallery exhibitions. We are presently putting up more works on to these pages. The Foundation, since its inception, has used the revenue from sales of these sketches to supplement our operations.

Tom gave the drawings to the Foundation in 1985 thinking they would be useful in the Archives. We immediately took 500 for the Permanent Collection and supplied Tom's gallery representation with others in order for Tom to financially benefit from them up until his death in 1991. It is expected that the prices on these works will increase significantly once the Taschen book is released.

View Works for Sale

There was purpose and reason for Durk Dehner coming into Tom's life. He was to make sure that Tom's work had a life after he was gone and that it be made available to those who would be best served by it — those future generations of developing young men.

Tom brought the male form back to the highly developed level as it had been revered in Greek and Roman times. It was again being displayed in all its grandeur, beautiful in stature, strong in physical and emotional presence, in addition to being friendly and approachable. Tom guided us to seeing that all of these attributes could be together, and that man could be all the more sexy and appealing for embodying them.

Tom in Print

Instigator Magazine - Issue 18 (PDF) The Legacy of Tom of Finland - from the unique perspective of Durk Dehner & Michael Thorn
Gorgeous Magazine (PDF) The Art of Being Gay
From Finland with Lust - London Times (PDF) Tom of Finland Exhibit at Homotopia - Liverpool (to Nov 30, 2008)
Out in the City - UK June 2008 (PDF)
Tom of Finland Fragrance

Harver Nichols Manchester
Harvey Nichols Manchester

Tom of Finland: His Purpose

Tom wanted his heroic males to celebrate their manhood providing young developing homosexuals a life with no shame or guilt - and to enjoy being sexual. In Tom's realm his men have no inhibitions, no reason for remorse. Tom was a rebel with a cause.

Going back to 1950 we see the formidable signs of Tom beginning to become an instigator in form and action. It was Tom who, from seeing some photos from the film The Wild One with Marlon Brando, immediately transformed his uniforms from flannel and brown leather to the dark, mysterious and sensual black leather.

This inspired a whole new subculture of leather-clad queer boys. These fellows made Tom's drawings "their own" and from there sprang the beginnings of bike clubs and leather bars. These boys would be seen throughout the western countries of Europe and North America, all the way down to Australia and South Africa.

In the early years there was little separation between heterosexual and homosexual bikers as they both wore similar gear, much of which Tom presented first in his drawings. His designs then found their way to the leather makers who began to manufacture the military-style-uniform-gone motor-biker.

Tom expanded the portrayal of his men to include sailors, beach bums, cops, and cowpokes in addition to other iconic images of thugs. He included every variation of the entire military corps along with a healthy sampling of lumberjacks and farm hands. These were the men that Tom was devoted to holding up as his heroic Viking-type Gods of the North. Men devoured his work and celebrated their newfound male identities with fervor.

Spanning five decades, starting in the mid 40s, Tom's mission was to provide other homosexuals with strong positive images of themselves. His brothers were staking their claim to their own identity as Men. This was critical, as up to that time they had been classified as anything but men. No one had effected such change and transference into culture since ancient times. Tom's work continues to cross generational boundaries, making available to all that seek it, a sense of pride, freedom and strength in being who they are — as nature intended. Tom's men, masculine by nature, are homosexual.

Tom, however, didn't expect that his vision would be so widely accepted and expressed through such a creative presence on so many levels of society. From such artists as Bruce Weber and Robert Mapplethorpe in New York to Juan Davila in Australia; in men's fashion from Tom Ford of Gucci in Milan to Gary Robinson and David Johnson of Tom of Finland Clothing in New York to Jean Paul Gauthier in Paris; from Freddy Mercury, Judas Priest, Adam Ant and Bronsky Beat from Great Britain to the creation of the Village People in the U.S. They all drew inspiration and influences from Tom's works and his message.

A link to a short biography on Tom of Finland.

"I work very hard to make sure that the men I draw
having sex are proud men having happy sex."

Tom's Men Kissing
Tom of Finland

The Tom of Finland Foundation: Our Purpose

When the Tom of Finland Foundation had a presence at the American Swingers Convention in Las Vegas a man in his mid-forties came up to our booth. He was handsomely dressed with a well defined body, showing off his muscles under a tight fitting Lacoste shirt, jodhpurs which were tight to the thigh and buttocks and knee high English riding boots which had a mirror like spit shine.

He proudly stated that the men in Tom's drawings were his ubermen. From his youth he had modeled himself after them for they were exactly how he felt about himself with the one exception; that he was attracted to women.

He went on to express that he and his wife, who joined him at the booth, wanted to buy the Tom Retrospective book for their son who was now approaching his 21st birthday. They felt he was mature enough to view Tom's work, and in their eyes, there was no better gift they could offer their son. With theirs (and Tom's) guidance they felt they could encourage a balance in his male nature.

They wished their son to be outgoing, free in his actions and assertive and proud of his manhood. This coupled with the ability to laugh at himself and having a keen interest in arousing and satisfying his partner's sexual appetite.

They felt that Tom's drawings were the embodiment of these attributes that they held in high regard. How evolved and secure this couple was to understand the messages of his work and to instinctively trust their son would take what was there for him without a worry that their son would turn queer.

As a messenger, Tom provided what was needed, and wanted, by a society too long in fear of the danger and ridicule associated with the freedom of sexual expression. He was the defender for all men, and especially for those homosexuals whose true nature was suppressed by a cruel family or an unfriendly society.

Tom wasn't concerned if the men in his drawings were too exaggerated in their super masculine style. This was the character that had long been denied homosexuals and he was going to make sure to offer it to them. Tom didn't care if his brothers donned the uberman style that he personally so enjoyed and found sexy. He just wanted to make sure they knew who they were — MEN.

His passion continues...

Tom and Durk created the Foundation so that future generations could enjoy his legacy.

Tom has been noted as one of the five most influential artists of the 20th Century. "As an artist he was, superb, but as an influence he was transcendent."

—Harvey Shipley Miller, Judith Rothschild Foundation.

Tom's work is in museums such as MoMA, The Art Institute of Chicago, LACMA and his home country's Kiasma.

Coming of Age
Part of Permanent Collection of MoMA

Link to a Flash presentation on Tom of Finland.

Link to gallery slide show of Toms Vintage Art.

There is a new Tom of Finland Polo Shirt just on the market.

The future is being made by all of us, so in reading this, embrace what inspires you and pay attention to what aspects of yourself make YOU so unique. To be queer is a responsibility; we live up to our expectations.

Be absolutely fabulous, 

Durk Dehner
President & Cofounder

Our Future

The future is being made by all of us, so in reading this, embrace what inspires you and pay attention to what aspects of yourself make YOU so unique. To be queer is a responsibility; we live up to our expectations.

Be absolutely fabulous, 

Durk Dehner
President & Cofounder

Visit our new hub page leading to the World of Tom.