Tom of Finland had more in common with Walt Disney than the American animator would have cared to admit. Both created sharp, well-defined images that came to define a time and culture. Disney created Mickey Mouse. In his hugely influential gay erotica, Tom of Finland gave us extravagantly muscled heroes who — wearing leather on those parts not naked — reflected and inspired post-war gay subcultures.
From the s on, Tom pushed the boundaries of gay erotic art, creating a style of comics that inspired a generation of gay men to celebrate their sexuality. I wanted my drawings to counteract that, to show gay men being happy and positive about who they were. But I knew — right from the start — that my men were going to be proud and happy men! The exhibition will also explore the work of artists inspired by Tom of Finland, including the well-known American artist, Michael Kirwan. This is a unique, free exhibition, open to those over 18, and part of the official Tom of Finland Centenary celebrations, supported by the Finnish Institute.
Tom of Finland is a pseudonym for Laaksonen, who split his time between Finland and California. He is considered one of the best known Finnish artists for his drawings of muscular men wearing tight, black leather uniforms. The textile collection was launched on Thursday and will be sold online in Europe, the United States and Australia, and in a flagship store in Helsinki. Pictures released by the company show duvets, towels and other products sporting the images. Unlike other Nordic states, Finland does not recognize same-sex marriage.