It’s our history | 2005 | Tom of Finland going to MoMA

23rd January 2022, 12:30 am


TOM OF FINLAND Untitled (Preparatory for finished drawing #89.10), 1989, Graphite on paper, 11.50” x 08.00”, ©1988 Tom of Finland Foundation


Tom of Finland at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Five works by Tom of Finland have been purchased by the Judith Rothschild Foundation, to be included in a collection of 1,500 significant drawings being compiled by the Rothschild Foundation, to be gifted to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York in 2006.

Tom (born Touko Laaksonen in a small village in Finland), first came to public attention in 1957, when Physique Pictorial magazine began to publish his drawings. In the ensuing years, his hyper-masculine images of men, often in explicitly erotic situations with other men, achieved the status of icons in the Gay male community. His work is credited by scholars with significantly influencing the way the culture viewed Gay men, as well as how Gay men viewed themselves. Tom became well-known for his meticulously detailed pencil drawings, many of which are now in private collections. Recently, his preparatory drawings have become increasingly popular among sophisticated collectors. The Rothschild acquisition includes two finished drawings and four preparatory drawings, and ranges from simple portraits to sexually explicit group images.

Though Tom’s work has been acquired for the permanent collections of a number of museums -­ including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Kiasma, Finland’s museum of contemporary art -­ the Rothschild purchase is different, according to Cliff Benjamin, director of Western Project. “This will cause a shift in perspective,” he said. “The inclusion of Tom of Finland in this collection means he will no longer be an ‘outsider’ but will rather be recognized for what he was: one of the historically significant artists of the twentieth century.”

Durk Dehner, cofounder, with Tom, of Tom of Finland Foundation, and currently its director, rejoices at the news. “I think it’s timely that this is happening as Foundation approaches its twentieth anniversary,” he said. “My only regret is that Tom didn’t live long enough to see his ‘dirty drawings,’ as he used to call them, take their rightful place among the foremost artworks of his time.”


Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection


Exhibition History

Exhibition History Tom of Finland   Selected Solo Exhibitions: Selected Group Exhibitions: Public Collections: Publications: Video, Film and Stage: Selected Solo Exhibitions: 2023 | Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Tom of Finland: Bold Journey | Helsinki, Finland 2023 | David Kordansky Gallery Tom of Finland: Highway Patrol, Greasy Rider, and Other Selected Works | New… View Article


Published: 23rd January 2022

Tags: ,

Categorised in: