Published by Skira. Edited by Juerg Judin, Pay Matthis Karstens.
Positioned at something of an angle to art history, Tom of Finland (1920–91) nonetheless counts among the popular artists of the latter 20th century. Through his iconic images, he almost singlehandedly changed the way gay men were perceived by society, and, more importantly, how gay men perceived themselves. The massive oeuvre that he produced over the course of a career spanning nearly six decades is devoted almost entirely to this one topic: men, their bodies and their eroticism. This extraordinary consistency in subject matter was matched by a lifelong passion for the discipline of drawing. And Tom most likely drew every day of his life. Tom’s world was populated by cowboys, mechanics, cops, punks and thugs—all indulging their desires with great camaraderie and without guilt or prejudice. This book assembles a cross section of these characters as devised by the artist in rough sketches or more carefully executed studies. These mostly served as preliminary drawings for the highly finished works, many of which were intended for publication. Designed as an imagined Tom of Finland sketchbook, this book lets the viewer share in his exuberant joie de vivre.
Published by Skira. Edited by Juerg Judin, Pay Matthis Karstens, Alice Delage. Conversations with Durk Dehner, Michael P. Hartlebe.
Although Tom of Finland’s iconic portrayals of sensual and powerful cowboys, farm hands, soldiers and leathermen are closely associated with American culture, it was in early 1970s Hamburg that the artist first found fame. There he formed important friendships with various protagonists of the city’s gay culture; his first ever exhibition was in Hamburg; and he even created a grand mural for the legendary Tom’s Bar, which remains the only bar legitimately named after the artist. Regular commissions to design posters and ads for gay events in Hamburg allowed him to quit his day job as advertising executive and launch his artistic career, which led to the creation of the most extensive private collection of his drawings to date.
This comprehensive publication delves into these seminal but under-researched years, documenting Tom of Finland’s art and friendships from this time. Alongside around 150 illustrations and well researched texts, the book includes a facsimile of the artist’s 1955 travel diary in Germany.
Touko Valio Laaksonen (1920–91), best known by his pseudonym Tom of Finland, is the most famous and influential Finnish artist of the 20th century. His depictions of self-confident and life-affirming sexuality have helped define gay iconography in the postwar era.