Apr 30 - Aug 20, 2021

Tom of Finland

The Darkroom

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of his birth, Fotografiska in collaboration with Tom of Finland Foundation produced The Darkroom, an exciting study in artist Tom of Finland’s (born Touko Laaksonen, 1920 – 1991) life and work process. The exhibition consists of photographic portraits which served as reference images for his famed homoerotic drawings.


Tom of Finland is celebrated internationally for his prolific and positive portrayal of confident gay men. His representational subjects are masculine, attractive, endowed with pronounced muscles and genitalia, and often dressed in uniforms or leather gear. His depictions of queer culture thoroughly challenged contemporary society, and solidified his place as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.

Tom grew up in a Finland where homosexuality was punishable by law until 1971 and classified a mental disorder until 1981. Here, he secretly photographed his models as references for his drawings – works that were to become coveted in underground gay culture. With increasing openness in the West, he would later live half the year in Los Angeles where gay freedoms were flourishing, and his art spread across the world.

The Darkroom is curated by Berndt Arell with Jessica Jarl, Fotografiska and is coordinated by Meredith Breech, Fotografiska New York in collaboration with Tom of Finland Foundation.

Tom of Finland’s art, for him, wasn’t about problematizing, but about desire and the right to express it.

Curator Berndt Arell