“TOM House: The Work and Life of Tom of Finland” | 19th April – extended through 27th May | Detroit

At Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead

The exhibition features work by Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) and incorporates artists who supported and admired his work over the years, including Richard Hawkins, Robert Mapplethorpe, Raymond Pettibon, Jim Shaw, and John Waters. The presentation will also include photographs, reference materials, and ephemera.

Tom of Finland’s drawings – remarkable not only for their masterful rendering, but also their fantastical representation of the male form – have been long celebrated for their radical role in broadening the popular understanding of Queer experience in art. Placed in context with his peers, the assemblage of these artworks engages a sensational narrative, one that helped define a generation.

Tom spent the last decade of his life between Finland and TOM House in Echo Park, Los Angeles, California. In partnering with Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, the exhibition will evoke the spirit of the home where Tom had his studio and lived during his final years. In their own way, both Tom and Mike spent their careers challenging the boundaries of art and social engagement, be it through their craft or thematic pursuits. The coupling of the two Foundations seeks to highlight the work of Queer artists across the globe and carry out the mission of protecting, preserving and promoting Queer art.


The exhibition will remain on view through 27th May 2018.
Wed/Sat/Sun: 11a–5p
Thurs/Fri: 11a–8p




FILM: Tom of Finland – 22nd April MOCAD’s Café 78 4p

Award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski brings to screen the life and work of the artist, one of the most influential and celebrated figures of twentieth century Gay culture. The film will be followed by a Q&A with exhibition curators S. R. Sharp and Marc Ransdell-Bellenger.

Tom of Finland Day – 8th May Special Hours: 11a – 8p

Cake and Souvenirs: 5p

Talk with Tom Cho: 6:30p
Tom is the author of Look Who’s Morphing
and is a former resident of TOM House, Los Angeles.

Daddy and the Muscle Academy Showing: 7p

The MOCAD Café and Store Will Be Open from 9:30a – 8p

Naughty Drawing – 19th May MOCAD’s Café 78 2-4p

Hardcore life drawing session features leather-clad male models and an inspiring array of specialty cocktails. Hosted by Tylonn J. Sawyer.

This exhibition and programs deal with mature themes.
Adults visiting with youth must preview before entering exhibition or program.

Presenting sponsorship for TOM House: The Work and Life of Tom of Finland is provided by Equality Michigan. Generous support is provided by Anonymous, Christopher Burcham, Gretchen + Ethan Davidson, Doc Duhan, Nicole + Stephen Eisenberg, Sid Galton, Stephen Krawchuk, Jeff + Loren Gillis Newsom, Rob Hennig, CV Henriette, Colt Mix, Brien O’Brien, Daniel Parente, Stefano Pilati, Red Bull, Michael Reynolds, Rizzoli International Publications, Mayer Rus, the Shipley-Miller Foundation, Takoi, and Jon Wright. Generous in-kind support provided by Pabst Blue Ribbon, and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles.



TOM’s Men, without shame

I never expected to see a movie about Tom and a great one at that. Tom would have liked it very much but I think but he would have said make more sex. Do not miss this classic film and see it in a theater if at all possible – made me cry, but in a good way, for all the good times with Tom and his men.

OK, here is my real feeling on seeing Tom of Finland. Spoiler alert if you have not seen.

At many times I felt it was Tom, not an actor. I cried during a lot of it. They caught the essence of Tom in the film from his Leather muse, to Durk Dehner, to his trips to America in 1978 and 1983, to his life partner Veli, and his sister Kaija.

I met Tom in 1978 at the opening of his exhibition at Fey Way Gallery and at the Eagle but I was the boy in the film with the Physique Pictorial under a blanket in his bed – me 1958 – after I bought my first Tom.

Tom was charming, laconic, intense in his gaze, as moved by us as we were by him and a very sexy man. In 1983 he came to a dying San Francisco because we needed him. He judged IML that year where my partner Colt Thomas was selected. He came to sell his sex positive book Tom of Finland Retrospective. I went to the Casto and stood in line and he signed my book “From Tom of Finland to Peter Fiske of San Francisco”. I even have a photograph to prove it.

From 1984 until his death in 1991, Tom would come to stay with Durk at TOM House and with my friend Felix Jones, we would head south to see Tom almost every year. We would see Tom and Durk and have lunch at the LAPD Academy which is open to the public. If you like cops go there, but I digress.

In 1987, after his husband Charlie Smith died, Coulter wrote Tom and asked him to make a picture of them and send a photograph. Tom said return the picture of you as a cowboy and I will make a new picture for you. Tom loved Coulter. Coulter loved the picture and he loved Tom. That picture now hangs in Tom’s room in TOM House. Go there if you are in LA – it is a place of pilgrimage if you are one of TOM’s Men.

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled (Coulter Thomas and Charlie Smith), 1987, Graphite on paper, Gift from Peter Fiske, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection, © 1987 Tom of Finland Foundation

Finally, let’s talk about TOM’s Men. They are incredibly sexual and they are happy, strong, healthy, good men. They love sex and they love each other. They live and love without shame. That is I think the greatness of Tom. His strong men live and love without shame, and they have joy and fun and sex.

Peter Fiske


Tom of Finland: Freedom Through Fetish

The iconic homoerotic artist was inspiration for “TOM,” a limited-edition book of drawings by New York-based artist Silvia Prada.

“TOM” by Silvia Prada in collaboration with the Tom of Finland Foundation

NEW YORK — Cropped black-and-white photographs of musclebound men fill the yellowing pages of a time-worn scrapbook. A body builder, showcasing his chiseled physique in little more than a strategically placed gathering of cloth, is pasted alongside another bare-chested model in partially unzipped black leather pants and boots.

Touko Laaksonen, widely known by his pseudonym Tom of Finland, used these real-life examples of the male form — many of which he photographed himself — as inspiration for his oeuvre of hyper-masculine homoerotic drawings. Largely marginalized during his lifetime, the Finnish-born Laaksonen is now widely regarded as a trailblazer of modern gay culture.

“His art represents a lot of freedom,” explains New York-based artist Silvia Prada. “It represents a moment where men had to actually wear a moustache and beard because [otherwise] they would get killed. This isn’t just erotic art, but it represents a huge utopic fantasy — a fantasy for gay men to become accepted.”

For the Spanish-born Prada, Tom of Finland’s sexually charged illustrations of the virile and strapping male form have long served as an unlikely muse. Prada, who identifies as lesbian, was raised in her family-owned hair salon surrounded by images of male beauty. “I grew up as a kind of gay boy,” she says. “The first kiss I gave was a male mannequin. I’m a difficult combination of things.”

Continue reading