In the world of Tom of Finland, everyone is allowed to be themselves – joy and pleasure belong to everyone. Kunsthalle Helsinki’s major exhibition portrays the artist’s work on wider scale than ever seen before.
A masterful stroke and iconic male figures have made Tom of Finland into one of Finland’s most widely-known artists. His bold and humorous imagery has sparked conversations on sexual diversity, equality as well as on the relationship between pornography and art.
The Pleasure of Play is the most comprehensive Tom of Finland exhibition to date, spanning six decades to include more than 180 drawings, 1930s childhood paper dolls, the full set of 1940s gouaches along with triptychs, individual drawings, storyboards and over 300 reference pages.
The exhibition was initially seen, conceived for, and produced by Artists Space, New York in Summer 2015 and has been complemented with works and documentation portraying aspects of the personal history of the artist, such as early landscapes and photos lent from family albums.
Opening Friday 6-8p with Pekka Strang
Celebrate Tom with his art: May 8, 2016
Tom at TOM House, Los Angeles, 1984. Photo by Jack Shear
Welcome to the celebration of Tom of Finland’s (Touko Laaksonen’s) 96th birthday!
At The Pleasure of Play
11AM–5PM: Coffee is served! Paulig offers us their new Tom of Finland coffee
1PM: Talk by Durk Dehner, president & cofounder of Tom of Finland Foundation (in English)
2PM, 3PM and 4PM: The Out’n loud choir sings “Vihmalintu” by Touko Laaksonen
4PM–6PM: Discussion: Touko Laaksonen as a person (in English)
With: Stefan Kalmár, curator of the exhibition and director of Artists Space, New York; Kati Mustola, researcher; Susanna Luoto, researcher. The discussion is moderated by PhD Livia Heikanaho.
The Cult of Iconified Homosexuality
Left: Tom of Finland. Photo: Tom of Finland Foundation. Right: Tom of Finland, Untitled, 1989.
As a phenomenon within Finnish popular culture, Tom of Finland has gone from secret icon of a forbidden subculture, to acknowledged cartoonist and illustrator, to slightly titillating object marketed to the general public in the form of household products such as stamps, duvet covers, potholders, and coffee. Tom’s creator, Touko Laaksonen (1920–1991) and his life are the subject of a recent film, a musical is also in production. It’s not for nothing that Tom is known these days as the new Moomin.
The current presentation of Touko Laaksonen’s erotic images at Kunsthalle Helsinki expands the phenomenon into art discourse, where the images are lined up for review in a traditional exhibition format, curated as a retrospective art show.
From an article by Maria Hirvi-Ijäs
An eventful day
Enjoy the exhibition, The Pleasure of Play with a relaxed stay. Free access all day. Become a participant in the art. Enjoy the work of Tom of Finland and learn the story of Touko Laaksonen.
Workshops, crafts and poetry.
Dress like a TOM’s Man. Photo booth available.