A BIT OF TIME WITH TOM OF FINLAND

What can be said about Touko Laaksonen that hasn’t already been said? His artistic output in myriad forms, unleashed over the last 50 or so years has had groundbreaking impact on global culture. His artwork has been censored on a massive scale; an eponymous fashion line based on his work has graced many catwalks; his drawings are part of the collections of major institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York; he’s been referred to as one of the “five most influential artists of the twentieth century.”

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1986, Graphite on paper, 16.50” x 12.25”, © 1986 Tom of Finland Foundation

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1986, Graphite on paper, 16.50” x 12.25”, © 1986 Tom of Finland Foundation

Laaksonen, known to the world as Tom of Finland, has been called a hero and a pervert but in his native Finland, he’s a national hero. After his passing in 1991, a documentary about his life, titled Daddy and the Muscle Academy: The Life and Art of Tom of Finland, was shown on Finnish national TV and was later shown at film festivals worldwide.

The work is 100% erotic, but there’s no denying the political weight that lies inherently in his earlier work; indeed his drawings in the ’50s and early ’60s were influenced strongly by US censorship codes and were mostly deemed obscene. In 1962, in the case of MANual Enterprises v. Day, the US Supreme Court ruled that photos of men in the nude were not profane. After that, the context changed; artistically Laaksonen could veer into new territories and publicly show what up until then only private collectors had had access to: much more suggestive – well, let’s face it – straight up pornographic – imagery.

You’d be hard pressed not to have some sort of association with Tom of Finland. But if for some reason this is the first you’re hearing of him, be assured: his hold on popular culture as we know it is VAST. There’s a saying: Before there was Gucci or Gaultier, there was Tom of Finland. ToF drawings were featuring men in military uniforms 2 or 3 sizes too small way back in the early ’50s. His subsequent interests in biker, sailor, beachboy and businessmen culture have been an endless source of inspiration for fashion designers throughout the last five decades.

Icon status is an understatement where Tom of Finland is concerned.

COMPLETE ARTICLE BY JOHNNY MISHEFF

TOM OF FINLAND AT AUSTERE

ON VIEW THROUGH 14th SEPTEMBER

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The exhibition marks the United States debut of art rugs by Nan Goldin, Richard Phillips, Juergen Teller and Bernhard Willhelm, as well as a capsule collection dedicated to Tom of Finland. Art pillows complement the collection.

Exclusive goods by Henzel Studio, État Libre d’Orange, Finlayson, The Posters, Rufskin and Tom of Finland Pleasure Tools.

912 SOUTH HILL STREET DTLA 90015

TOM OF FINLAND PILLOWS

Well, at least we’re consistent. Tom of Finland is back. And he’s in your bedroom. A line of limited-edition pillows, crafted by Swedish luxury designer, Henzel Studio, pays homage to the artist we know and love. “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.” The pillows come in three designs, each double sided with unique collages of original ToF work.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY ORLANDO ISRAEL

A slew of prominent contemporary artists including Jack Pierson, AVAF, Scott Campbell,Robert Knoke, Nan Goldin, Richard Phillips, Anselm Reyle, and Juergen Teller have contributed to the project, allowing Henzel to transform selected works of theirs into similarly lux pillows. At first, I questioned the artists’ decisions to sell their artwork in the name of leisure, but, after actually seeing and feeling the pillows, it’s obvious that these are not your average Throws. The cotton/polly blend is soft and durable, piping along the outer edge ensures no tearing, and, most importantly, the shape and size of the pillows frame the beautifully printed images perfectly. I have one on my bed right now and she looks f*cking fantastic.

Gayletter_logo_gryBy Jeffrey From