1984-2004: the tom of finland
foundationís 20th anniversary
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Foundationís formation as a nonprofit educational arts organization. In these 20 years we have accomplished many things including the large expansion of our library, archives, and permanent art collection, the establishment of many programs, and the introduction of new services for artists and the community.
First and foremost, I want to emphasize that all of this belongs to all of you. The fact that we are a nonprofit means that no one individual owns the assets of the Foundation as they truly belong to society at large. Tom (Touko Laaksonen) and I designed it this way so that the legacy would outlive both of us and people worldwide would be able to appreciate the bounty of the Foundationís hard work for generations.
The Foundation was started in 1984 with the mission of preserving the library and some of the original artwork created by Tom. The reason: he had altered culture. The messages in his work affected culture beginning with the gay male sector, and then expanding to society as a whole either directly through his work being exposed to the masses, or indirectly by making an impact on the lives of other creative individuals who then went on to influence society through their own contributions.
In 1988 Tom and I decided to expand the Foundation to be a center for all of the erotic arts which, of course, included both male and female artists. We realized that erotic artists were then disenfranchised and typecast with pornographers. We at the Foundation are the protectors and nurturers of artists who express their creativity through depictions of the human form and manís sexual desires.
In the past 20 years we have accumulated over 200,000 records and more than 100,000 visual files on artists. Our Permanent Collection contains over 1,000 Tom of Finland originals including finished pencil drawings, preliminary sketches and studies, pen & inks, watercolors and unique works such as lino cuts and pieces done in marker pens. There are also, now, over 1,500 pieces by other artists. To maintain an accurate record of the Collection we purchased a computer designed specifically for the digital scanning of artwork and to include a database we built for cataloging.
Our yearly art fairs now take place on both coasts of the United States; in New York each spring and in Los Angeles in the fall. Together the fairs provide 125 artists with the opportunity to showcase their works to the public.
Our website is constantly updated, and continues to be the foremost place on the net to discover new erotic artists, read about the history of erotic art, purchase works and be informed about erotic events all over the globe.
The Foundation has expanded its ongoing programs here in Los Angeles to include life drawing classes, art salon evenings as well as fundraisers and other get-togethers.
We have loaned artwork to museums and galleries around the world for various shows including traveling exhibitions. Since its inception the Foundationís presence has been felt across the U.S. in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Miami Beach, New York, Palm Springs, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle, and overseas in Berlin, Canberra, Hamburg, Helsinki, London, Paris, Stockholm, Toronto and Zurich.
The works of Tom of Finland now reside in such prestigious institutions as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Portland Museum of Art and Finlandís Museum of Contemporary Art, the Kiasma. In a very exciting development the Judith Rothschild Foundation recently purchased several of Tomís drawings which will be part of an international traveling exhibition.
The Foundation has accomplished all this on our own with the loyal support of our corps of members. We have never received grants from any funding agencies because they probably still think erotic art is too ďfringe.Ē
[On June 22, 2004 The Foundation received its first grant from the
Peter S. Reed Foundation.] We hope this attitude will change as society integrates a more comfortable level of acceptance of human sexuality into their lives.
The Foundation is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit facility that welcomes your membership and contributions. You can find out more about us by visiting our website or by contacting the Foundation headquarters.
ó Durk Dehner