for immediate release  
Collector Donates Tom of Finland Drawings
to Chicago Museum

Hudson, curator and owner of Feature Inc., a gallery influential in the early recognition of artist Touko Laaksonnen, aka Tom of Finland, has donated two pivotal drawings by the late artist — one a completed work, the other a rough sketch — to the Permanent Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

“Feature Inc. presented exhibitions of Tom of Finland's drawings during the late 1980s and early 1990s,” Hudson recalls, “and his drawing skill and subject matter were an important influence on me and many people I knew, including many artists. I especially appreciated Tom’s use of an academic and/or traditional style of rendering to portray provocative political and erotic imagery. As I had recently opened a gallery, I thought it was important to include his drawings in the contemporary fine art discussions, which, at that time, were attempting to expand and become more pluralistic, especially with regard to gender, ethnicity, and the sociopolitical.”

The two pieces donated by Hudson represent an American period — specifically a California period — in Tom of Finland's many transitions. Black men with White men became a part of Tom's creative focus during the 1980s, the last decade of work before his death in 1991.

“While living in the States, Tom feasted on the beauty of Black males,” Durk Dehner, cofounder and director of the nonprofit Tom of Finland Foundation, remembers. “In the mid 1950s, in Finland, he drew interracial pieces without ever having seen Blacks and Whites together. Those early works were showcased in Europe but could not be published in America at that time, so photo prints of them were secretly smuggled in.

“Hudson's donation, and the acceptance of these works by The Art Institute of Chicago, is one more stone in the pathway of Tom of Finland's recognition by the fine art communities of the world,” adds Dehner. “It’s something Tom always fancied, but did not really dwell upon. First there was the Town Hall in the hamlet where Tom was born, then the Kiasma in Helsinki, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Portland Museum of Art, the recent donation by the Judith Rothschild Foundation to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and now the Art Institute of Chicago.”

“I lived in Chicago for six years and still feel a connection to that place,” Hudson adds. “I love the Art Institute's collection; it was consistently an inspiration for me when I lived there. Sometime ago, I donated a Pettibon drawing to their collection, and it seemed time to donate something else. I thought it would be good for the museum to have both a drawing and a sketch, so to expose some of his working process. As well, the sketch has formal compositional decisions which are of concern to more trendy contemporary aesthetics.

“I was also curious to see if they would accept it as a gift,” Hudson adds. “It was a great pleasure to hear of the acceptance and to realize that this gift allows many, many people the opportunity to see these terrific drawings and be inspired, amused, aroused, and/or enraged.”

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August 4, 2005

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