TOM OF FINLAND: Public and Private
runs till December 23rd at Antebellum
1643 North Las Palmas Avenue, Hollywood
This exhibition was mounted as a result of the interest shown, and encouragement given, by students visiting TOM House. Their enthusiasm towards this work has made us at Tom of Finland Foundation (ToFF) realize that, as was the case years ago when Tom discovered his rough sketches were valued works unto themselves, these works, too, will now have more opportunities to be enjoyed and receive their own status.
In order for Tom to create his men and perfect his drawing skills, he first needed images of them. In the early years of post-war Europe, magazines were not readily available so Tom learned how to photograph models and develop and print what he shot. He added the pictures to his catalog of print material he used as reference for his drawings.
After a preliminary sketch, Tom would draw a finished work and when that was complete he would need to document it. He would photograph them and create contact sheets to mail to customers from which they could order prints; prints which Tom produced in his own darkroom.
Tom enlisted his friends, geared them up (often in his own leathers) and posed them to capture the exact way he wanted the body and gear to look in his realistic drawings. The better Tom’s drawings became, the better they communicated his message of pride and freedom.
Tom’s “doodles” were created at the kitchen table in the late evening while he was reading the daily news, which was usually then transformed into TOM’s News. International politicians and civil activists soon became over endowed, booted, “TOM’s Men”: It was Tom’s way to relax.
Tom often combined his doodles and his own photographs with tear sheets and clippings on the pages of his reference binders, which still reside in his studio at ToFF’s headquarters in Echo Park, where the artist lived the last decade of his life.
TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen)
May 8, 1920 – November 7, 1991
Thank you to Mike Goldie for these photographs.
View the World of Tom of Finland Gallery HERE