Get to know what ignited Tom

11th May 2020, 6:42 pm

Turku Museum Center operated by the City of Turku

It’s a 100 years since the birth of Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen)

In honor of Tom’s centennial, you are invited to watch
and get to know the rural landscapes
where he grew up and what inspired him.

Tom was born in Kaarina, near Turku, the ancient capital of Finland. The modern seaport of Turku has grown so much since Tom’s birth that Kaarina is now a citified suburb, but back in the ’20s the area where Tom grew up was more country than town, a checkerboard of fields of wheat and rye alternating with woods of fir and birch.

Fields meant farmers and farmhands; woods meant lumberjacks and loggers. From the start, Tom lived among the kind of men he would never tire of depicting in his art. Even in his early childhood, Tom’s eye began to store up images of those well-muscled laborers: how their mouths looked when they shouted or laughed; how their sweat-stained, worn pants wrinkled at the crotch; how they swung their muddy boots out to the sides when they walked.

Those Finnish country boys were no different from the youths of any time or place: full of animal high spirits. Despite long days of hard manual labor, they always seemed to have enough energy left over to wrestle with their buddies. They liked to strip off their shirts at the first hint of sunshine and work with their bare torsos gleaming with sweat.

I can remember my first infatuation for one of those guys. He was a young field hand whose farm was near our house. He was short but very muscular and his name, Urho, was very appropriate because it means ‘hero’ in Finnish. Although I didn’t have the foggiest idea then why I was so fascinated with him, I can remember hiding in the bushes on summer afternoons to watch him, naked to the waist, working in the wheat.

These were the men Tom would draw for the rest of his life: big, uncomplicated, physically oriented men, proud of their muscles and even prouder of their cocks, easily aroused, whether to anger or to lust, but also—and this was important to Tom—easy to please and quick to forgive, always ready with a handclasp and an embrace. Years later, those memories—the way one man’s head sat on his neck, the way the waistband of another man’s pants rode low on the tops of his buttocks—would come tumbling out of Tom’s pencil almost of their own accord.



  Tom was born Touko Valio Laaksonen in Kaarina, near Turku, on the southwest coast of Finland in 1920.   Tom talks about his youth: We lived in a school house, the way it worked back then was that teachers had an apartment in the school house. Mom was the head teacher and when another… View Article

Tom – 1928

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1928, Graphite on paper, 8.00” x 5.88” Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection, © 2020 Tom of Finland Foundation Tom’s love of the comic book format was life-long. This early work from Touko, when he was only eight, shows his natural gift for storytelling and… View Article

ToFF presents gift to Wäinö Aaltonen Museum in Turku, Finland

Tom of Finland will not be leaving Turku entirely, even though the Capital of Culture year’s successful Tom of Finland Retrospective exhibition is closing there on December 18, 2011. The Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art (WAM) and the Åbo Akademi Library in Turku wish to collect works by Tom of Finland and material related to… View Article

Tom of Finland attracts record audiences in Turku, Finland

The year-long exhibition of legendary Gay artist, Tom of Finland, ended in December attracting a record audience of 90,000 to the Logomo space. The exhibition, which opened in January 2011, was part of the official program for Turku European Capital of Culture 2011 and presented by Homotopia, Liverpool, Turku 2011 Foundation and Tom of Finland… View Article



Published: 11th May 2020

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