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Tom of Finland

(Finnish, 1920-1991)

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen) is widely regarded as one of the 20th century’s most influential artists for his revolutionary representation of the male figure. His drawings of fantastically muscled men engrossed in acts of homoerotic desire comprise one of the most inventive portrayals of the human body in modern times. These pictures of gay men as virile, confident, and unashamed—equally radical for their near-illicit, underground distribution—originated an empowering queer iconography and liberating spirit that has marked popular culture, art, fashion and human rights.

Over a career that spanned nearly fifty years, he produced thousands of images beginning in the 1940s, robbing straight homophobic culture of its most virile and masculine archetypes; bikers, hoodlums, lumberjacks, cops, cowboys, and sailors, and recasting them – through deft skill and fantastic imagination – unapologetic, self-aware, and boastfully proud enthusiasts of gay sex.

The integration Tom of Finland’s work into the media at hand – hand made rugs and pillows – was ignited by the unique environment and interior elements that make TOM House. Located in Echo Park, Los Angeles, it is home of Tom of Finland Foundation, guardians of the artist’s body of work and living archive for the erotic arts, and where Tom permanently lived for the last decade of his life. Founded in 1984, it a place where Tom’s relentlessly butch aesthetic and drawings mingle with different styles of décor, artifacts, rotating art displays and open air installations. It is a place that is marked by a community that disarms shame and judgment, and promotes Tom’s message of encouraging respect, acceptance and love through art.

Kooku selection of designer works

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