muscles, erections, testis, and buttocks


Tom of Finland invites an intimate, comedic gaze. If there were two keys words for his work, they would be “freedom” and “narrative,” rather than “hot” and “hunky” as some might hazard. True, the topics of a Finland portrait are very sexual, but as the artist’s choice to adopt the pseudonym “Tom of Finland” in late 1956 (the name accompanied his artwork submission to Physique Pictorial, which wowed the editor and earned “Tom of Finland” the magazine’s Spring 1957 cover) suggests, Touko Laaksonen understood that his work expressed an abandon that was not sanctioned by the homophobic, prudent regimes of his time.

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