A Fine Finnish – “Tom of Finland” – St. Louis – June 25

Tom of Finland: Original Drawings

Every week Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday from Sat., June 25 until Sat., August 6

phd gallery
Price: $10 suggested donation opening night; free thereafter

By Paul Friswold

 When Touko Laaksonen was a young man, homosexuals had no public image because homosexuality was not discussed in the 1930s. That didn’t stop Tuoko from fantasizing about the loggers and farmers of his bucolic Finnish village — and it didn’t stop him from using these men as the inspiration for his drawings of burly men rough-housing, wrestling and engaging in more intimate physical acts. Touko eventually found work in advertising, but sent his illustrations to the major American physical fitness and muscle mags of the day, signing his work with the easier-to-pronounce “Tom.” The burgeoning gay community fell in love with Tom of Finland’s work not just because of his hyper-sexualized male nudes — although what’s not to love about that? — but because his subjects were always depicted as strong, happy and proud of their bodies and themselves. Gay pride was evident in Tom of Finland’s art long before it was a rallying call for the LGBT community. And in honor of PrideFest weekend, phd gallery hosts a unique exhibition, Tom of Finland: Original Drawings. As the title implies, these are not lithographs or reproductions, but genuine original graphite on paper illustrations from the hand of the master.


Gay pride was evident in Tom of Finland’s art long before it was a rallying call for the LGBT community.

Tom of Finland: Original Drawings opens with a free public reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at phd gallery (2300 Cherokee Street; 314-664-6644 or www.phdstl.com). A suggested $10 donation on opening night benefits the Tom of Finland Foundation, an organization which promotes, protects and preserves erotic art. The work remains up through Saturday, August 6, and the gallery is open Thursday through Sunday. Admission is free after opening night.



Martin of Holland has passed

MARTIN OF HOLLAND, Untitled (detail), 1977, From Tom of Finland Foundation Collection © 1977 Martin Holland

On Saturday, June 11, 2011, we here at Tom of Finland Foundation received some very sad, though not unexpectednews from the Netherlands. Martin Van De Logt, the artist known around the world as Martin of Holland, died at his home in Den Haag, in the company for his friends and family, from an inoperable brain tumor, diagnosed earlier this year.

Martin of Holland’s art appeals to very specific tastes, and to call it extreme might be a bit of an understatement. His passion for the subject matter and his unflinching imagination set him a part from those who crave social approval or critical adulation. In a time when so many new and established Gay and erotic artists are trying to “tastefully tone it down,” Martin’s work stands apart as both fiercely creative and proudly uncompromised.

Though many in his home country are unfamiliar with his works, his impact on one of the most socially progressive countries in the world was profound. As the last individual in the Netherlands to be arrested and incarcerated for producing and distributing his own pornography in the 1950s and 60s , the civil rights ramifications of his multiple year imprisonment helped insure that the generations that followed were free from bias and bigotry hidden behind and inside all acts of censorship.

We here at TOM House send our most heart felt condolences to his partner and his family. To view more of his work, check out his web page.