An online auction benefiting Tom of Finland Foundation
A charitable art auction raising funds for the Los Angeles–based Tom of Finland Foundation which serves to promote, protect and preserve LGBTQIA+ art and artists. Tom of Finland Foundation, founded in 1984 by Tom and his partner Durk Dehner, was established to offer a safe haven for all erotic art in response to rampant discrimination against art that portrayed sexual behavior or generated a sexual response.
2021 would have been Tom’s 101st birthday and celebrations this year carry the theme of education. The Foundation’s purpose is to inform on the cultural merits of erotic art and how it promotes healthier, more tolerant attitudes about sexuality.
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 colleagues; both friends and fans have always simply called him “Tom”.
Tom of Finland’s given name was Touko – because he was born on 8th May 1920, on the southwest coast of Finland, and May in Finnish is “Toukokuu”.
About the auction
The title of the auction is a play on a classic Sex Ed course, in which the participating artists are your professors and the 101 refers to both an informative curriculum as well as the age Tom would have turned this year. Proceeds benefit the Foundation which serves to protect, preserve and promote art and artists in the LGBTQIA+ community.
“Tom gave permission to so many artists to explore the sexual in their work. So many artists have recognized Tom and supported him in many ways throughout the years. Sexology101 is an opportunity to visit a playground, free of judgment and full of joy.” –Richard Villani
Peter Berlin • Ion Birch • Brian Calvin • Simon Haas • Irena Jurek • Hein Koh • Emma Kohlmann • Grant Levy-Lucero • Eric Lotzer • Slava Mogutin • Kent Monkman • Nicole Nadeau • Shahryar Nashat • Ruby Neri • Erin M. Riley • Aurel Schmidt • Gus Van Sant • Chloe Wise
Featuring PETER BERLIN
“I asked if he would draw me, and he said yes. Since he was there to sign books he couldn’t spend too much time with me but I told him I wanted to have four drawings made and we agreed to a fee of $300 a piece. I told him, ‘I don’t like too much nakedness so you have to draw me with clothes on.’ He agreed. I later saw a quote of Tom saying, ‘To me a fully dressed man is more erotic than a naked one.’” –Peter Berlin, AnOther, 2021
Featuring SLAVA MOGUTIN
“Tom of Finland Store invited me to create an online exhibition as a way of protest and defiance against censorship, but also as a way creating a welcoming, safe-haven platform for other queer artists.” –Slava Mogutin, Out, 2018
“When they censor my work either on social media or in real life,” says the artist Slava Mogutin, “my response is always — double up on the queer, double up on the fight and what they don’t want to see.” –o32c, 2019
Featuring SIMON HAAS
“My college boyfriend gave me a Tom of Finland Kake comic for my 21st birthday, when I was studying at the Rhode Island School of Design. I was a recently out-of-the-closet painting student filled with angst about my sexuality and my art, and this was my first exposure to art that made me feel like I belonged. Tom of Finland’s deft pencil work and the immediate eroticism are enough to make any young gay boy a quick fan, but after a decade of looking at his drawings, I understand that his work transcends pornography and occupies a space of queer spirituality. I came for the giant phalluses and stayed for the joy of being a gay person. Tom’s drawings are unapologetically happy and have not a shred of shame in them — an incredible rarity in any depiction of homosexuality, even now. Tom had the fortitude of spirit to celebrate men at play at a time when most of the world considered gay people to be an abomination. I am 64 years his junior, and I have yet to discover within myself the kind of fearless happiness that Tom manifested in his work. Tom had such an abundance of radical self-acceptance that his work continues to impart the spirit of self-love onto gay men everywhere. I will never know Tom, but I can sincerely say that I love him with all my heart.” –Simon Haas, The New York Times Style Magazine, 2020
Featuring GRANT LEVY-LUCERO
Grant Levy-Lucero (b. 1981, Los Angeles, California) has had solo exhibitions at VNH Gallery, Paris, France; Night Gallery, Los Angeles; and Henry Taylor’s, Los Angeles. His work has been featured in group exhibitions at Gagosian Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland; Art Toronto, Toronto; 356 Mission, Los Angeles; Sans Titre, Paris, France; and Club Pro LA, Los Angeles. In 2019, his work was featured in a collaboration with Acne Studios. He lives and works in Los Angeles.
“Appropriating the signature branding for Magnum, the ‘Gold Standard’ line of Trojan Brand condoms, Grant Levy-Lucero created this piece, Magnum for Tom, in his signature style of hand-built ceramic vessels. The phallic-shaped vase is glazed black with yellow lettering, and the artist’s process is visible in the fingerprint indentations that give the vase its unique shape. Los Angeles-based Levy-Lucero is represented by Night Gallery, and his work is currently featured in the group exhibition Reflections: Human/Nature at Gana Art in Seoul.” –Cornelia Smith and Beatrice Sapsford, Artsy Art Market, 2021
Featuring CHLOE WISE
“When choosing a work by Chloe to include in the auction, there were a few that were fitting. We went with this one, of her boyfriend’s ‘juicy man booty’, because we knew this would have been right up Tom’s alley. A lot of Tom’s works featured nude men out in nature, in sunlight, without shame and without censorship. This work celebrates those same themes.” –Brooke Wise, i-D, 2012
This cheeky oil painting by Canadian artist Chloe Wise is featured in Sexology 101, which was curated by Brooke Wise, the artist’s sister. Eric Pissing at Sunset has already received a flurry of bids ahead of the sale’s close. –Kaylie Felsberg and Beatrice Sapsford, Artsy Art Market, 2021
Auction opens 28th May and closes 11th June.
Artsy x Tom of Finland Foundation present Sexology 101 curated by Brooke Wise.
“All the pieces in the show explore sexuality in some way. Some of the work is more overtly sexual than others, and some explore love more so than sex and fetish. All artists in the show have been influenced by Tom’s legacy and their work can be seen as a love letter to what Tom helped build and promote- sex positivity, community and inclusion.” –Brooke Wise
The auction includes 21 works ranging in value from $850 to $20,000. This event is produced by Richard Villani, Director of Special Projects at Tom of Finland Foundation.
COVID-19 health and safety is one of our top priorities, which is why everyone can access the auction from the comfort and safety of their homes. There will be a small artist appreciation reception in the gardens of TOM House.
About the Foundation
The Foundation is a nonprofit organization, a 501(c)(3) Educational Archive: #95-406-5795. We are volunteer driven and membership supported. The Foundation hosts events throughout the year to raise funds and to provide a sense of community for supporters of the arts.