“TOM OF FINLAND The Darkroom”

30th April 2021, 11:00 am

Date(s) - 30th Apr 2021 - 19th Aug 2021
11:00 am - 9:00 pm

Fotografiska New York


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TOM OF FINLAND, Aarno, 1976, Silver Gelatin Print, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection © 1976-2021 Tom of Finland Foundation

The exhibition consists of photographic portraits which served as reference images for his famed homoerotic drawings. These photographs were confined to Tom of Finland’s home studio and darkroom, displaying them elsewhere would have risked a prison sentence, as homosexuality was criminalized and classified as a mental disorder in his native Finland at the time of this work. Even after a century of Tom of Finland’s birth, there are forces today trying to relegate homosexual desire into dark closets.

Tom of Finland, with his desire and skill, positively portrayed and drew masculine, attractive, confident men in homoerotic poses – dressed in uniforms, leather, rubber and fetish gear –  thoroughly challenging contemporary society. At the same time, he was highly regarded by queer folk and members of the Leather/Fetish community. Curator Berndt Arell shares:

This never before shown treasure trove of images gives a deeper insight into how his skillfully drawn super-macho men were created. Each drawing could consist of several references from several different photographs. The drawings show the men always full of confidence, and always ready, since Tom of Finland’s art, for him, wasn’t about problematising, but about desire and the right to express it.

TOM OF FINLAND, Untitled (Preparatory drawing), 1977, Graphite on paper, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection © 1977-2021 Tom of Finland Foundation

Tom of Finland is celebrated internationally for his prolific and positive portrayal of confident gay men. His representational subjects are masculine, attractive, endowed with pronounced muscles and genitalia, and often dressed in uniforms or leather gear. His depictions of queer culture thoroughly challenged contemporary society, and solidified his place as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.

TOM OF FINLAND, Untitled (Durk), 1982, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection, © 1982-2021 Tom of Finland Foundation


TOM OF FINLAND The Darkroom | TOM OF FINLAND The Official Life and Work of a Gay Hero


On the occasion of the artist’s birth this exhibition focuses on Tom’s photographs, in combination with his drawings, showing his artistic process.

“Tom of Finland is regarded as a role model in the fight for a more equal and fair world. He contributed to the sense of pride that became a major force in the early gay movement. Tom’s men are proud, happy and confident. They take and they give. They broaden the vocabulary of who queers can be, not defined by society, but by self. His artistry is also unique in that it crosses so many borders – it has spread far beyond the subculture for which it was created. Today we can see its influence in everything from fashion to identity politics.” —Berndt Arell, curator


Take a course in how Tuoko Laaksonen became Tom of Finland, the iconic and groundbreaking, internationally renowned artist and experience his positive portrayal of confident gay men with a section devoted to The Darkroom.

Tom of Finland 101: Chapter Ten Quiz

  Tom frequently exchanged letters or talked on the phone to men whom he had never met; and he tended to picture these unseen communicants as looking like his Tom of Finland drawings: impossibly handsome and muscular—godlike. He enjoyed it a lot more when he imagined he was dealing with men who looked like the… View Article

“TOM OF FINLAND The Darkroom” Closing Party

18th Aug 2021 @ 8:00 pm – 11:59 pm –   On the occasion of the artist’s birth this exhibition focuses on Tom’s photographs, in combination with his drawings, showing his artistic process. At the intersection of techno, fetishwear and BDSM we bring you BOUND. Fetish vignettes and performances with music and more, featuring Macy Rodman, Memphy, Pauli Cakes, Katie Rex, Venus Cuffs, Mistress Neena, and the quintessential face of […]

In NY for #TomOfFinland101!

  In celebration of the 100th anniversary of his birth, Fotografiska in collaboration with Tom of Finland Foundation produced The Darkroom, an exciting study in artist Tom of Finland’s (born Touko Laaksonen, 1920 – 1991) life and work process. The exhibition, curated by Berndt Arell, travels from Stockholm to New York in time for Tom of… View Article

Tom took a correspondence course with a marketing and advertising school during the late 1930s and into the mid 1940s, and studied piano and composition at the Sibelius Academy during the 1940s, as well. He also worked as a pianist for restaurants, schools and theatres in Helsinki, as an art director at McCann Helsinki until 1973, and as a full-time artist thereafter.

About Tom of Finland

ABOUT TOM OF FINLAND The Life of the Artist Tom of Finland is the artist name of Finnish Touko Laaksonen (1920, Kaarina – 1991, Helsinki). He signed his erotic work “Tom”, and when his drawings were first published in 1957, the now world-famous “Tom of Finland” was born. “Touko Laaksonen” was kept for family and… View Article

“Daddy and the Muscle Academy” screening

16th Jun 2021 @ 7:00 pm – 8:15 pm –                               See it on the Big Screen! Tom of Finland is one of the major icons of the gay world. His provocative erotic drawings have had an enormous influence on gay identity, attitude and self-understanding. This ground-breaking work combines interviews with […]

Book Talk – “Loving” with Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell

17th Jun 2021 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm –                                 Loving: A Photographic History shines a new light on the most written about, dramatized, or filmed emotions – love. The pages of our book portray love, but also courage – the courage that it took to memorialize that unmistakable […]

The little-known photography of Tom of Finland

  As a new exhibition of Tom of Finland’s photographs opens, Miss Rosen examines this relatively unexplored side to the hugely influential artist’s work     “Tom never thought that anything other than his finished drawings would be of interest or value to the public and his collector base,” president of Tom of Finland Foundation… View Article

Tom of Finland model recounts early days of danger

Models who worked closely with the celebrated artist talk about his enduring legacy, that challenged laws of obscenity, after 101 years.  Fotografiska New York has collaborated with the Tom of Finland Foundation to produce The Darkroom, a collection of the photographic portraits by Tom of Finland, which served as the reference images for his later works. The… View Article

The finest schooling

This class was in the syllabus as a 101 course but we took a deep probe…      

The exhibition has traveled from Stockholm to New York in time for Tom of Finland’s 101st birthday this past 8th May. Called “The Darkroom,” it continues through 20th Aug. 2021

Tom of Finland’s photographs are iconic but have been mostly unseen — until now

  “His mission was to spread joy and spread that sense of freedom of expression.” It can be hard to remember that there was a time, not so long ago, when depictions of gay men were exceedingly rare. Tom of Finland was a Finnish artist who was well known for his underground erotic drawings of… View Article


This is our must-see – well, for anyone roaming the streets of New York City, that is. Taking place at Fotografiska New York is Tom of Finland: The Darkroom, the exhibition celebrating the king of homoerotica (and the perfect place to see an array of hunky men). As much as we love boys in their… View Article

In the darkroom with homoerotic art hero Tom of Finland

  At Fotografiska New York, the reference photography for Tom of Finland’s sexually empowered drawings are receiving overdue exposure Last year, Tom of Finland turned 100. The trailblazing cultural icon created work that simultaneously dropped jaws, squared up to the stagnant views of 20th-century society, and sang an ode to queer liberation.  In his heroic homoerotic… View Article

Tom of Finland exhibit showcases the artist’s rare early works

  Never-before-exhibited early works of homoerotic artist Tom of Finland can be seen in an exhibition entitled The Darkroom at Fotografiska in New York City. Produced in collaboration with Tom of Finland Foundation and curated by Berndt Arell, The Darkroom contains some of the artist’s early photographic portraits that served as reference images for his later iconic illustrated works…. View Article

Published: 30th April 2021

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