Touko & Tom | 28th January | Berlin

Tom at TOM House, Los Angeles, 1984. Photo by Jack Shear

Loves and Lives Tom of Finland is a Gay icon. His drawings of well-built men in rugged attire, and depictions of man-to-man lust, shaped a strong image of Gay identity. He drew males having sex without shame, proud and full of confidence.

Tom of Finland is the artist name of Finnish Touko Laaksonen (1920, Kaarina – 1991, Helsinki). He signed his erotic work “Tom” and when his drawings were first published in 1957, now world-famous “Tom of Finland” was born. “Touko Laaksonen” was kept for family and colleagues; both friends and fans have always simply called him “Tom”.

Ecce Homo If we can agree upon the definition, that a great artist must be radical in the terms of his own time and has the power to change the way we see the world, then Tom of Finland undoubtedly counts among the great and truly influential artists of the second half of the 20th century. He managed to gain a huge international following outside the usual precincts of museums and galleries. Through his iconic images he almost singled-handedly changed the way Gay men were perceived by society, and – maybe even more important – how gay men perceived themselves.

All he needed to create a universe of dazzlingly gorgeous hunks was a pencil and a sheet of paper. And he probably drew every day of his life. Drawing was an excercise for his restless imagination and desire.