Providing viewers with unique opportunities to observe the scope of Tom’s working methodology online

11th April 2020, 2:10 pm

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish; b. May 8, 1920, d. November 7, 1991), Untitled, c. 1972, Graphite and mixed media on paper, 11 3/4 x 8 3/8 inches (29.8 x 21.3 cm), framed: 17 1/4 x 13 7/8 x 1 1/2 inches (43.8 x 35.2 x 3.8 cm)

Tom of Finland: 100 Years, presented by David Kordansky Gallery, provides viewers with unique opportunities to observe the scope of Tom’s working methodology. Exquisitely rendered pencil drawings like the rare Untitled (Cover for Kake Vol. 15 – “Violent Visitor”) (1971) reveal the virtuoso qualities of the hand that generated some of his most immediately recognizable scenes. The artist’s published stories, including his 26 Kake comics (1968–1986), were the forum in which Tom gave his fantasies the fullest range, and the covers, in particular, were reserved for images that were designed to be iconic, eye-catching, and arousing. If their publication was associated with the burgeoning countercultural and underground comics movements, the detailed compositions reveal connections to Classical and Renaissance art, demanding that they also be read in relation to the sweep of the Western tradition.

Such hijacking of hegemonic institutions is one of Tom’s trademarks. His narratives and the pencil and pen and ink pictures that illustrate them are filled with cowboys, policemen, bikers, and repairmen who buck their traditional roles by engaging in all manner of creative couplings. The mixed-media collages on view find him combining appropriated photographic imagery from magazines into thematic reference pages: studies of anatomy, posture, and expression. In some instances, he embellishes a printed image with his own fetishistic flair via hand-drawn interventions. Here the building blocks of Tom’s aesthetic are presented in tangible material form, as are the voraciousness of his intelligence and the pointedness of his humor.

The preparatory drawings included in 100 Years offer an incomparable register of this responsiveness, and to the transformation of a personal, desire- and passion-driven artmaking impulse into an encompassing vision that has inspired people and artists of all kinds to follow the libidinal force of their own bodies and minds.




This show celebrates the centennial of the artist’s birth.
Featuring never-before-exhibited drawings in pencil and pen and ink, as well as Tom’s personal collages.

David Kordansky Gallery is one of the most dynamic venues for contemporary art in Los Angeles, and is internationally regarded as a leading gallery of its generation. Their exhibition program is dedicated to presenting artists’ work with passion and intellectual rigor, and to bringing the utmost care and precision to the showcasing of their visions. The Gallery’s artists have been the subjects of solo exhibitions in acclaimed museums worldwide and regularly appear in landmark biennials and thematic group shows. 


14th Apr 2020 – 12th May 2020 @ All Day –             Over the course of his career, Tom’s work reflected societal changes as they appeared in fashion, commercial design, technology, and architecture. Because of the concentrated and consistent  nature of his project, the peripheral variations that creep in become telling indicators of the ways in which the world was changing […]

Published: 11th April 2020

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