Tom of Finland Is Big in New York

It’s been a long time coming, but the artist Tom of Finland — master of the bulge — is finally getting his first major survey. At Artists Space in NYC, the exhibition will include more than 140 drawings, rarely-seen watercolors from the 1940s, over 600 collages, and his early childhood drawings. Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play is the first exhibition to analyze the historic role that his art has played in addressing and transgressing stereotypes of gender, sexuality, race, and class.

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TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled (From the AMG “The Tattooed Sailor” series), 1962, Graphite on paper, 11.19” x 8.88”, Gift from artist, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection, © 1962 Tom of Finland Foundation

It may look playful — if graphic — now, but his work hasn’t always been seen as such. Back when simply being gay was criminal, Tom of Finland (aka Touko Laaksonen) was exploring the outer, and inner, reaches of male-on-male art. As Billy Miller, editor of the hardcore gay-erotica magazine Straight to Hell, told us upon the opening of Bob Mizer and Tom of Finland at MOCA last year, “In the 1950s, naked male bodies with only an outline of a cock seen through a posing strap were just as explicit [as gay porn]…probably more so.”

Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play, June 14 – August 23, 2015, Artists Space, 38 Greene Street, NYC

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“Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play” Comes to NYC’s Artists Space

Twenty-five years after his death, Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, 1920–1991) will receive his first comprehensive survey at NYC’s Artists Space. The exhibition will include more than 140 drawings, rarely seen gouaches from the 1940s, over 600 pages of collages, and his early childhood drawings.

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Tom's Finnish Tango, 1947, Gouache on paper, 11.38” x 8.13”, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection, © 1947 Tom of Finland Foundation

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Tom’s Finnish Tango, 1947, Gouache on paper, 11.38” x 8.13”, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection, © 1947 Tom of Finland Foundation

Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play is being touted as the “first exhibition to examine, analyze and present the historic role that his art plays in addressing and transgressing stereotypes of gender, sexuality, race, class and power relations.” Tom, of course, is the iconic gay Finnish artist whose work brought a machismo to the representation of gay men.

His work was a little bit sexy, too.

Tom studied advertising in Helsinki, but was soon drafted to join the Finnish Army in its fight against the Soviet invasion. After the war, Laaksonen worked as art director at McCann Erickson, a job he quit in 1973 in order to commit himself fully to his art. His international career was jump started in 1957 in LA through his ongoing contributions to Bob Mizer’s Physique Pictorial. Tom later entered into a friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe, whom he met in 1978 in San Francisco and who helped him in 1980 to realize his first gallery exhibition in New York. In the late ’70s, on one of his frequent visits to the US, he met Durk Dehner, with whom he founded the Tom of Finland Foundation in 1984, based in Echo Park, LA.

Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play will run from June 14 to August 23. Founded in 1972 in downtown New York, Artists Space has for four decades successfully contributed to changing the landscape for contemporary art – lending support to emerging artists and emerging ideas alike.

If you need your Tom of Finland fix early, climb into Rufskin’s collection featuring his work.

MetroSource

 

 

Kaarina’s Tom of Finland takes a trip to New York

Kaarinan Tom of Finland matkaa New Yorkiin

Kaarinan kaupungin omistama Tom of Finlandin taulu lähtee New Yorkiin taiteilijan suurnäyttelyyn.

Teos matkaa Yhdysvaltoihin Artists Space Exhibitions -gallerian järjestämään näyttelyyn, johon tulee yhteensä yli 180 Tom of Finlandin teosta.

Kaarinassa syntynyt Touko Laaksonen (1920–1991) tuli maailmalla tunnetuksi homotaiteen uranuurtajana. Luonnos kolmesta lihaksikkaasta mieshahmosta hankittiin kaupungin kokoelmiin suurella kohulla vuonna 1992.

Hankinta oli Kaarinan kaupungin mukaan ilmeisesti ensimmäinen kerta, kun taiteilijan töitä ostettiin minkään julkisyhteisön kokoelmiin. Kaarinassakin aluksi ujosteltiin taulun ripustamista esille.

Kulttuurisihteeri Mikko Nortelan mukaan Kaarinan kaupunki on nykyään ylpeä kansainvälisesti tunnetuimman taiteilijansa perinnöstä. Esimerkkinä tästä Tom of Finland -säätiölle myönnettiin viime vuonna Kaarina-mitali.

Henri Hallman

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Drawing by TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, 1920-1991)

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This drawing owned by the City of Kaarina in Finland (Touko’s hometown) will be in the Artists Space exhibition in New York in June. Kaarina bought this drawing in 1992 and it created a scandal! It was the first Tom of Finland acquisition by a public entity. According to the Secretary of Cultural Affairs, Mikko Nortelan, the City proudly embraces the legacy of this great, internationally-know artist and awarded Tom of Finland Foundation their Medal of Honor last year.