Tom of Finland Retrospective Attracted Record Audiences in Sweden

The Tom of Finland retrospective which was one of the key highlights of Turku’s European Capital of Culture 2011 has attracted record audiences of 31,000 over the summer at the prestigious Kulturhuset in Stockholm.

The exhibition ran for nearly two months (28.6.-19.8.2012) and consisted of over 50 rare and iconic drawings on special loan from the permanent collection of Tom of Finland Foundation, Los Angeles.

TOM OF FINLAND (Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1988, Graphite on paper, ToFF #88.01, © 1988 Tom of Finland Foundation

Curator Gary Everett of Homotopia, Liverpool said: “The response to Tom in Stockholm has been incredible and Homotopia are very proud to have created a unique and important legacy of our hugely successful year in Turku

“Our collaboration with Homotopia and Turku 2011 has been a true milestone for our organisation and we hope to continue to foster stronger links in the UK & Finland. Tom would have been so happy to see what’s been achieved in his homeland and Sweden, added Durk Dehner, President of Tom of Finland Foundation Los Angeles.

“We made the Tom of Finland retrospective part of Turku’s European Capital of Culture year because we wanted to introduce Tom’s works to a wider audience and also to leave a legacy that would benefit research related to arts and human rights in particular. The year 2011 was Tom’s coming home.

Cay Sevón, CEO of the Turku 2011 Foundation said: “For us, working together with the Foundation in LA and Homotopia in Liverpool was a valuable experience, and we are happy to have been given the chance to take the project to Stockholm’s Kulturhuset, which is, of course, a very high-profile place to exhibit in.”

The Turku 2011 Foundation awarded funding to Homotopia Liverpool’s Tom of Finland exhibition as part of the legacy of the European Capital of Culture year 2011. The same exhibition attracted 90,000 visitors in Turku, making it one of the biggest crowd-pullers of the celebratory year. In all, the exhibitions in Turku and Stockholm were seen by some 121,000 people.

Homotopia was also planning to take parts of the exhibition to St Petersburg, again with the support of the Turku 2011 Foundation, but decided to cancel the project after being warned by British officials that going ahead with the plans could put them at risk under the city’s new anti-gay legislation, which was introduced at the end of February this year. St Petersburg’s new piece of legislation banning for example films, music videos, books and magazines with homosexual content has sparked an international outcry.


Tom of Finland attracts record audiences in Turku, Finland

The year-long exhibition of legendary Gay artist, Tom of Finland, ended in December attracting a record audience of 90,000 to the Logomo space. The exhibition, which opened in January 2011, was part of the official program for Turku European Capital of Culture 2011 and presented by Homotopia, Liverpool, Turku 2011 Foundation and Tom of Finland Foundation, Los Angeles.


TOM OF FINLAND (Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled (Detail from "Finlander Studs 2"), 1974, Graphite on paper, 11.75” x 8.25”, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #74.08, © 1974 Tom of Finland Foundation

The major retrospective of 70 rare and iconic drawings from 1928 to 1990 were on special loan from Tom of Finland Foundation’s permanent collection. The exhibition was a key highlight of the Homotopia Festival when Liverpool was European Capital of Culture in 2008, attracting record audiences there of 7,000.

Cay Sevón, CEO Turku 2011 Foundation, said “The Tom of Finland retrospective was one of the most valuable parts of the artistic program of the European Capital of Culture year. The exhibition attracted significant national and international interest. The project will leave a permanent heritage in Turku. Tom of Finland Foundation has donated a piece of art to The City Museum for Modern Art, as a first work that we hope will build into a collection. Relatives of Tom (Touko Laaksonen) want to participate in supporting the establishment of such a collection, built especially on work, personal effects and memorabilia from Touko’s youth. Åbo Akademi University in Turku will start collecting written documents about and by Touko, particularly pertaining to Touko’s youth. The project in many ways has given us in Turku a gift of permanent relevance.”