Tom of Finland Foundation, a 501(c)(3), nonprofit, tax-exempt
organization, was created in 1984 by Touko Laaksonen, aka Tom
of Finland (1920-1991), and Durk Dehner, Foundation Director.
In the opinion of most scholars, Tom was the foremost gay male
erotic artist of the 20th century – his images had a tremendous
influence on emerging notions of human sexuality in general,
and masculinity in particular, in the years following World
War II. Five of Tom’s works were recently acquired by
the Judith Rothschild Foundation for inclusion in a collection
of significant drawings of the 20th century, which will be gifted
to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York in 2006.
The original purpose
of the Foundation was to preserve and document Tom’s work
for future generations. Within a few years, however, the rampant
spread of AIDS had brought about the death of many erotic artists
and the consequent destruction of their work by uncaring or
vengeful heirs. Heeding the pleas of desperate artists, the
Foundation expanded its mission to include preserving, protecting,
and promoting all erotic art.
Our mission continues
today through a wide variety of programs. The Permanent
Collection of more than 1,500 original works by Tom,
and another 2,000 works by hundreds of other artists, and the
Archives, with well over 100,000 images, documents
and pieces of memorabilia, together comprise the world’s
largest repository of erotic art. Many scholars and researchers
call upon this resource – a few examples include Dr. Richard
Meyer of the University of Southern California, whose book,
Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century
American Art (Oxford University Press), includes images
and references to Tom’s work; and Belgian art historian
Micha Ramaker, author of Dirty Pictures: Tom of Finland,
Masculinity, and Homosexuality (St. Martin’s Press).
The Foundation itself has published three print retrospectives
of Tom’s work, the latest of which contains a foreword
by former Whitney Museum curator Richard Marshall. Tom’s
art is also the subject of two books published by Taschen Verlag.
Since 1993, the Foundation
has conducted a biennial Emerging Erotic Artist Contest,
giving heretofore unrecognized talents the opportunity to introduce
themselves to the art world. We conduct outreach through a biweekly
e-news bulletin and a twice-yearly
newsletter, The Dispatch, which includes
the "Erotic Art Gallery". We maintain
a strong web presence at www.TomOfFinlandFoundation.org
(which has won Cybersocket Magazine’s best "Art
& Artists" site on the web for two years running);
and participate in various local and international exhibitions
and symposiums throughout the year. Recent additions
to the roster of programs include Salon Nights,
informal gatherings at private homes to which artists and collectors
bring their favorite works; and a monthly life Drawing
Workshop. The longest-running Foundation activity is
Archiving Sunday, at which volunteers document
and record Tom’s work, and that of other artists –
it has been held every other week for more than twenty years.
biggest events are the Erotic Art Fair Weekends in Los Angeles
and New York, where artists from around the world display and
sell their work. The West Hollywood – Los Angeles
Erotic Art Fair Weekend takes place annually in October.
The Weekend includes a Friday night Artists’ Reception,
a two-day Erotic Art Fair, seminars, and an Awards Banquet.
In 2001, we produced the first New York Erotic Art Fair
Weekend, and the annual east coast Fairs held in May
have become cultural events as eagerly anticipated as their
west coast counterparts.
For further information, call the Foundation at 213.250.1685
or write Dan Berkowitz at DanBerkowitz@TomOfFinlandFoundation.org.