Untitled, from ‘The Tattooed Sailor’ series, 1962 © Tom of Finland, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection

Tom of Finland: Love and Liberation at House Of Illustration

The UK’s first public exhibition dedicated solely to gay cultural icon Tom of Finland on the centenary of his birth. 6 March to 28 June 2020 – Granary Square, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4BH. This timely exhibition celebrates the artist whose unique aesthetic and homoerotic visions had a profound impact on the likes of Queen and the Village People – despite living and working in a country where both homosexuality and pornography were illegal.

Untitled, from the ‘Sailor and the Cyclist’ series, 1963 © Tom of Finland, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection

It will feature iconic, previously unseen drawings from Tom of Finland Foundation’s collection – unabashed tributes to gay sexuality and identity which continue to have an outsize influence today.
www.houseofillustration.org.uk

Untitled, 1974 © Tom of Finland, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection

Tom of Finland: Love and Liberation will showcase 40 main works on paper produced between the 1960s and the 1980s, epitomizing the before and after facades of homosexuality and its decriminalization in Europe and the U.S. The exhibition will feature early drawings of men fighting that constituted the only legal approach to show physical contact between men before decriminalization. Moreover, it will include illustrations from his iconic Kake comics and rare linocuts produced in very limited editions. A copious number of these works, on loan from the LA-based Tom of Finland Foundation, will be exhibited for the first time.

Untitled, from ‘Sex on the Train’, 1974 © Tom of Finland, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection

Corporate-akin by day, artist by night, Tom of Finland began drawing homoerotic fantasies by first debuting bodybuilding magazines in the U.S. signing them off with the pseudonym “Tom” in order to avoid censorship and ultimately, arrest. Public had only to look as far as sports or health magazines to look at Finland’s sumptuous, hyper-hunk masculine figures, while an underground audience could access his overt erotica via a network of sex shops and leather bars.