HENZEL STUDIO AND AUSTERE DEBUT RACY TOM OF FINLAND COLLECTION

TOM OF FINLAND, Untitled, 1979, Henzel Studio Heritage, Hand tufted, wool, 67 x 96 inches. Image by Tom of Finland Foundation/Henzel Studio.

TOM OF FINLAND, Untitled, 1979, Henzel Studio Heritage, Hand tufted, wool, 67 x 96 inches. Image by Tom of Finland Foundation/Henzel Studio.

Few artists have been more provocative—or more revolutionary—than Touko Laaksonen, better known as Tom of Finland. His iconic 1970s and 1980s portraits of macho men in all their glory brought homosexual desire out of the closet and into the mainstream, at a time when even the mildest expression of queer sexuality was forbidden in much of the world. Now, thanks to a collaboration between Henzel Studio, Austere and the Tom of Finland Foundation, fans can finally go home with one of Tom’s dreamboats.

Henzel based the capsule collection on Tom’s original artwork, including some preparatory drawings that have only rarely been shown in public. “In selecting the images,” says Joakim Andreasson, Henzel Studio Collaborations and Heritage curator, “it was important to stay true to the artist’s body of work, regardless of sexual content.”

A dozen tufted rugs certainly don’t shy away from sexuality, with illustrations ranging from coy flirtation to fetish acts to unabashedly triple xxx scenes woven into their wool. Three art pillows boast riotous collages of cops, leather daddies, and anonymous beefcake, all digitally printed on cotton/polyester and sourced from the foundation’s archives of vintage books, Physique Pictorial magazines, and other media—a spectacular timeline, in effect, of Tom’s work through the years.

The collection’s real prize, though, is a freeform rug made entirely by hand. “The Leatherman’s face,” on the rug, says Andreasson, “was created by Tom for Tom’s Saloon in Hamburg, a gay leather bar that still operates to this day and is the only place Tom lent his name to.” The rug’s 150 knot wool is delicately threaded with silk to reference the highly polished leather its subject favors—a artisan’s wink to the fetish of a legend.

Interior_Design_logoBy Jesse Dorris

 

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AUSTERE’S EXHIBITION OF ARTIST RUGS AND PILLOWS CELEBRATES THE WORK OF TOM OF FINLAND

Tom of Finland rug.  Photography courtesy of Henzel Studio.

Tom of Finland rug. Photography courtesy of Henzel Studio.

In a welcome confluence of progressive sensibilities, Austere, the innovative showcase of Scandinavian design in downtown Los Angeles, is hosting an exhibition of artist carpets and pillows crafted by the Swedish luxury rugmaker Henzel Studio. The show, Henzel Studio: Collaborations/Heritage, marks the U.S. debut of new carpet designs by Nan Goldin, Richard Phillips, and Helmut Lang, as well as the launch of a capsule collection dedicated to the artist Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, 1920–1991).

Richard Phillips rug. Photography courtesy of Henzel Studio.

Richard Phillips rug. Photography courtesy of Henzel Studio.

The opening comes at an intriguing moment for Tom of Finland, when the undersung artist’s hypermasculine, homoerotic imagery is being reexamined and recontextualized within the canon of 20th-century art. (A survey of his six-decade career opens June 14 in New York at the influential nonprofit gallery Artists Space.)

Helmut Lang rug. Photography courtesy of Henzel Studio.

Helmut Lang rug. Photography courtesy of Henzel Studio.

Created in collaboration with Tom of Finland Foundation, the floor covering line comprises 12 hand-tufted carpets and one fantastic, freeform hand-knotted rug, all made in Nepal of silk and wool. (For those Tom aficionados who can’t quite afford a high-end handmade carpet, the offering also includes three rather alluring cash-and-carry pillows.) The collection is ultimately a testament to both the revolutionary vision of Tom of Finland and the extraordinary craftsmanship of Henzel Studio, which has miraculously captured the artist’s mastery of line, form, and shadow.

Through August 14 at Austere, 912 South Hill Street, Los Angeles

Mayer Rus

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