Tom of Finland, rough sketch, 1983, 16 9/16" x 11 3/4", graphite on paper.

In 1984, the non-profit Tom of Finland Foundation was established by Durk Dehner and his friend Touko Laaksonen a.k.a. Tom of Finland. As Tom had established worldwide recognition as the master of homo-erotic art, the Foundation's original purpose was to preserve his vast catalog of work. Several years later the scope was widened to offer a safe haven for all erotic art in response to rampant discrimination against art that portrayed sexual behavior or generated a sexual response. Today the Foundation continues in its efforts of educating the public as to the cultural merits of erotic art and in promoting healthier, more tolerant attitudes about sexuality.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art curator Bruce Davis selected this Tom of Finland drawing to be added to the Museum's permanent collection and exhibited in their 1997 “Master Drawings” show.

Unlike many artists, Tom of Finland's work has always been appreciated by a grass-roots audience as his work was first seen in commercial settings such as magazine illustration, posters and advertising. From the perspective of art historians, Tom's work had an effect on global culture unmatched by that of virtually any other artist. Tom's work had a defining impact on the way gay men throughout the world were perceived and more importantly, how they perceived themselves. Tom's work has, therefore, had a ripple effect throughout gay and straight culture during the last 40 years, influencing lifestyle, political tolerance, design, fashion and art.

One of the primary goals of the Foundation is to promote Tom's work along with other erotic art so that it receives the academic attention it deserves. From a critical perspective, thanks in part to the sustained commitment of the Foundation, Tom's art is now beginning to receive the acknowledgment it merits. The Finnish Museum of Contemporary Art was the first to make a progressive move in its 1991 acquisition of three Tom of Finland works. In 1997 Tom's work was acquired by two more major museums: The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Actively promoted by the Foundation, Tom's work is increasingly being shown in galleries worldwide. A recent well-received exhibition at the Mark Moore Gallery in Santa Monica, California established this blue-chip gallery as the official representative for sales of Tom's work in the contemporary art world.

The Foundation is a non-profit organization, a 501(c)(3) Educational Archive: #95-406-5795, supported by donations from the public, various fund-raising events and dues from its loyal membership. The men and women who support our efforts and goals dedicate themselves both financially and as volunteers enabling the Foundation to present an impressive number of activities on a limited budget.

The Tom of Finland Company exists as a separate entity from the Foundation. The Company was first established by Tom and Durk to oversee the publication of his work and to eliminate the problem of widespread piracy of his images. In order to further the goal of supporting both Tom's art and the art of other erotic artists, the Company initiated and funded the Tom of Finland Foundation and continues to provide free publicity and frequent donations to further its aims.

The Foundation has produced three Tom of Finland Retrospectives. The latest features the finest representation of his work yet with a foreword by noted photographer Bruce Weber and an essay by former Whitney Museum curator Richard Marshall.

In recent years, the Foundation has rapidly expanded its Permanent Collection through donations of all manner of erotic artworks, by artists of all genders and sexual orientations. In addition, a growing archive of images by other artists to complement the extensive one of Tom's work is in progress. These archives provide an invaluable resource to curators, students, art historians and collectors.

To support and encourage emerging erotic artists the Foundation produces a bi-annual contest which provides exhibition of their work, publicity and awards. The promotion and sale of both new and established artists is facilitated through the "Erotic Art Gallery by Mail." The work represented ranges from unknown artists to classic images by Tom, Don Bachardy, Robert Mapplethorpe and more. The project's success has exceeded expectations in providing a place to expand the commercial value and exposure of erotic art.

The Foundation hosts social events throughout the year to raise funds and to provide a sense of community for supporters of erotic art. An example is the annual "Tom's Bar" which promotes and exhibits erotic art in a very popular party setting and raises funds to support the Foundation's activities at the same time. The rapidly growing "Erotic Art Weekend" brings together artists and patrons from many parts of the globe. It provides them with a social environment in which to network, opportunities to explore the archives and most importantly, the opportunity to buy and sell works at the two-day Erotic Art Fair.


In a tradition that goes back 1,000 years, "pillow books" were given to couples at marriage to teach them how to pleasure each other.

Silk pillow painting, early Twentieth Century, 11" x 11 1/2", donated to the permanent collection by Cathie Bagwell.


An example of the new work the Foundation supports and exhibits through its Emerging Erotic Artist Contests.

Aaron Holliday, "Gay Hunter", 1997, 19" x 24", graphite on paper, on loan to the Foundation.


Bob Mizer

The Foundation archives include all types of art including this 1950's era physique photograph.

Al Urban, 1952, 8" x 10" photograph, donated to the permanent collection by the Doan Family Foundation.


One of the Foundation's future goals is to establish a permanent Museum of Erotic Art that will display a stimulating range of work in a setting suitable to the importance it deserves. This goal is at the top of the Foundation's priorities now that Tom's work is being accepted by established museums. The realization of this goal will require the support of all who have an interest in erotic art, whether for personal satisfaction or to promote tolerance and freedom of expression. With your support the Foundation will promote a deeper, healthier and more tolerant appreciation of human sexuality by opening an exhibition of erotic art that will never close: our Museum.

A Note from the President

Continued support from individuals such as yourself is crucial to the Foundation's survival and continued growth. Visible community support will greatly aid our volunteers in attracting corporate contributions and successfully applying for grants. Every dollar contributed and new membership will ensure the future protection of your right to view whatever art you choose.

Donations of all sizes are always welcome, including networking with your friends and business contacts to encourage further support. Donations can be earmarked for specific purposes, such as recent donations which will go directly to our Museum fund.

The Foundation's greatest sustenance, however, comes from our loyal members and volunteers. Only by having a committed and active membership can we feel secure that our promise to uphold the goals of the Foundation will be sustained for posterity. Several levels of membership are available so that everyone may participate.

Aside from providing support, members create a sense of community and camaraderie with others who share their interests. As a member you will receive the Foundation's quarterly "Dispatch" newsletter which will keep you informed of all Foundation activities and events with in-depth articles on a wide range of erotic artists, updates on new acquisitions to our permanent collection and our ever increasing library of international erotic artists past and present. Members also receive discounts on event admissions and Foundation merchandise.

Finally, with our growing roster of activities, volunteers are more important than ever. In the future we hope to expand our activities to new areas throughout the world. All volunteers are welcome and will find whatever work they may be asked to do stimulating and a great way to socialize and network. We especially need volunteers with specialized skills in marketing, fund-raising, design, gallery installation, art history/archiving and museum studies.

As a founder of the Tom of Finland Foundation, I want to give you my personal assurance that our dedication to the cause of preserving erotic art and educating the general public as to its importance is both intense and unending. I look forward to working together with you and the many others who will help strengthen and expand the vision I established with Tom of Finland into the next century.

- - Durk Dehner