THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
works by the artist Tom of Finland (1920-1991) have been purchased
by the Judith Rothschild Foundation, to be included in a collection
of 1,500 significant drawings being compiled by the Rothschild Foundation,
to be gifted to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York in 2006.
Negotiations are currently underway with MOMA and several other
important museums in the United States and Europe to display the
collection before it is donated.
Tom of Finland, born Touko Laaksonen in a small village in Finland,
first came to public attention in 1956, when Physique Pictorial
magazine began to publish his drawings. In the ensuing years, his
hyper-masculine images of men, often in explicitly erotic situations
with other men, achieved the status of icons in the gay male community.
His work is credited by scholars with significantly influencing
the way the culture viewed gay men, as well as how gay men viewed
themselves. Tom became well-known for his meticulously detailed
pencil drawings, many of which are now in private collections. Recently,
his rough sketches have become increasingly popular among sophisticated
collectors. The Rothschild acquisition includes two finished drawings
and four sketches, and ranges from simple portraits to sexually
explicit group images.
Though Tom’s work has been acquired for the permanent collections
of a number of museums – including the Los Angeles County Museum
of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Kiasma,
Finland’s Museum of Contemporary Art – the Rothschild purchase is
different, according to Cliff Benjamin, director of The Western
Project, the gallery which represents Tom’s work. “This will cause
a shift in perspective,” he said. “The inclusion of Tom of Finland
in this collection means he will no longer be an ‘outsider’ but
will rather be recognized for what he was: one of the historically
significant artists of the twentieth century.”
Durk Dehner, cofounder, with Tom, of The Tom of Finland Foundation,
and currently its director, rejoices at the news. “I think it’s
timely that this is happening as the Foundation approaches its twentieth
anniversary,” he said. “My only regret is that Tom didn’t live long
enough to see his ‘dirty pictures,’ as he used to call them, take
their rightful place among the foremost art works of his time.”
The Tom of Finland Foundation was formed in 1984 by Tom and Durk,
for the purpose of preserving Tom’s work for future generations.
In 1988 the Foundation — a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational
corporation — expanded its mission to include preserving,
protecting, and promoting all erotic art.
For further information, visit www.TomOfFinlandFoundation.org,
call the Foundation at 213.250.1685, or write Dan