Admired by important gay artists like Robert Mapplethorpe, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, John Waters and David Hockney, Touko Laaksonen, better known under the pseudonym Tom of Finland (1920-1991), is without a doubt one of the most influential figures in 20th-century homoerotic art. Over a career span of almost fifty years, he created thousands of images beginning in the 1940s,
Exaggerated Male Sexuality
Tom of Finland improvised, in simple and explicit line-drawings, a fantasy-world of uncomplicated and exaggerated male sexuality. Moving over wide areas of gay sexual possibility his protagonists, none the less, have - and this is his brilliance and his shortcoming - a fantasist's monomaniacal similarity.
Packed Protruding Asses
He produced a whole type of men, square-jawed, thick-lipped with powerfully muscular bodies, packed protruding asses and huge cocks. In a typical sexual scuffle drawn by him it may be only the color of hair of the participants, or the fact that one of them manages somehow to keep on his peaked leather cap, that distinguishes them from each other.
That and the fact that Tom of Finland, in the early 1960s, was always rendering explicit the sexuality of certain male stereotypes - lumberjacks, cowboys, hitch-hikers on the one hand, who had already been the province of more conventional gay artists like George Quaintance (Fig. ), and on the other those distinguished by uniforms: police, sailors, soldiers, railway-guards.
In a sense all his stereotypes were the same; in a world of elemental masculinity they blend with each other in a mood of almost childish satisfaction, authorized by unchanging opportunity. Yet prophetically he created a way of life which the real gay world, more or less independently, would follow, with its tendency to homogenize personality by a cult of virile images, its sex-bars and clubs, its fascination with role-playing, uniform and theatrical postures of sexual power. Here, in his visions of the leather-scene and SM sex, a habit of mind was identified which became real on the West Side piers in the early 1970s.
More about Tom of Finland on the site TomofFinland.org which is completely dedicated to the artist....!!
Source: Robert Mapplethorpe, 1970-1983 by Sandy Nairne a.o
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