A new perspective on Tom of Finland, documenting his formative years in 1970s Hamburg
Although Tom of Finland’s iconic portrayals of sensual and powerful cowboys, farm hands, soldiers and leathermen are closely associated with American culture, it was in early 1970s Hamburg that the artist first found fame. There he formed important friendships with various protagonists of the city’s gay culture; his first ever exhibition was in Hamburg; and he even created a grand mural for the legendary Tom’s Bar, which remains the only bar legitimately named after the artist. Regular commissions to design posters and ads for gay events in Hamburg allowed him to quit his day job as advertising executive and launch his artistic career, which led to the creation of the most extensive private collection of his drawings to date.
This comprehensive publication delves into these seminal but under-researched years, documenting Tom of Finland’s art and friendships from this time. Alongside around 150 illustrations and well researched texts, the book includes a facsimile of the artist’s 1955 travel diary in Germany.
Touko Valio Laaksonen (1920–91), best known by his pseudonym Tom of Finland, is the most famous and influential Finnish artist of the 20th century. His depictions of self-confident and life-affirming sexuality have helped define gay iconography in the postwar era.