Tom of Finland, born Touko Laaksonen in 1920, is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of recent times due to his revolutionary representation of the male figure. He became legendary for his erotic gay scenes, portraying nude and leather-clad men with exaggerated sex organs. He is understood to have influenced Freddie Mercury, Robert Mapplethorpe and other gay public figures in the late 20th century. His goal was to show gay men as happy and confident, and to remove any shame associated with homosexuality, creating an empowering queer iconography.
There are twelve hand tufted rugs in the collection and one hand knotted carpet, all made from silk and wool. Many of them depict explicit scenes of a sexual nature – including one that has informally been coined the ‘fuck rug’ (for obvious reasons). It was important to stay true to the artist’s body of work, regardless of content.