Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tom of Finland XXL

Reader, be warned: the “XXL” on the cover of the new Tom of Finland book (Taschen) alludes not just to the tome’s oversize dimensions, but to its, ahem, larger-than-life content. Until his death in 1991, Tom of Finland, who was born Touko Laaksonen, produced thousands of homoerotic images depicting men before, during and after fetishistic sexual activity. His work has always had a cult gay following — the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe was a major promoter — as well as considerable impact within the fashion community. Vivienne Westwood famously used his drawing of two naked cowboys on a T-shirt, and designers like John Bartlett and Jean-Paul Gaultier have also mined his aesthetic.

Though “XXL” probably won’t find its way onto a ton of coffee tables, its publication, with essays by Camille Paglia, John Waters, Armistead Maupin and Edward Lucie-Smith, should help establish Tom of Finland’s work within a broader community. As Paglia writes, “His fantastic action figures, recalling the superheroes of comic books, belong to the graphic tradition of animation — an ever-expanding genre that may be currently eclipsing the fine arts in prestige and influence.”



1 comment:

  1. Loved your article in the XXL book: a little much needed humor in such oh so serious books.
    And I recognise your fetish!