Tom of Finland Retrospective. Exhibition 20 September – 30 November 2008
This exhibition is a major retrospective of the early drawings by legendary gay artist Tom of Finland. Over 100 illustrations from 1944-1984 will be on show. It is one of the Homotopia festival trailblazers for the Tom of Finland Foundation.
Touko Laaksonen, aka ‘Tom’ was born in Finland in 1920.
His first commercial gig was drawing half-naked men for Physique Pictorial, a 1950s homosexual ‘fanzine’ disguised as a straight men’s magazine.
From the perspective of art historians, Tom had an effect on global culture unmatched by that of virtually any other artist. First seen in commercial settings such as magazine illustration, posters and advertising, his work had a defining impact on the way gay men were perceived and more importantly, how they perceived themselves.
Tom had a profound influence on gay culture because he was the first to connect two words everyone assumed were oxymorons: Masculinity and homosexuality.
In a world that insisted gay men were sissies, Tom did the unthinkable, portraying them as confident, macho and assertive.
Tom’s oeuvre has, therfore, had a ripple effect throughout gay and straight culture during the last 40 years, influencing lifestyle, political tolerance, design, fashion and art to popular culture.