Tom of Finland Opens MIAMI BEACH GAY PRIDE Exhibition, 4/14-7/31

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TOM OF FINLAND – Male Masterworks exhibition opens on the weekend of Miami Beach Gay Pride with 20 original drawings and paintings focuses on artwork that greatly influences Gay culture by challenging oppressive stereotypes. The exhibition runs from April 14, 2012 to July 31, 2012. By depicting masculine men enjoying their sexuality free of shame, Tom of Finland has had an important effect on global culture. Harvey S. Shipley Miller of The Judith Rothschild Foundation stated that, "Tom of Finland was one of the five most influential artists of the last century; that influence transcended into the culture and became it."

Five decades of this prolific artist's work is represented and shows, in chronological order, the development of his techniques and the breadth of his subject matter. Also, as part of the exhibit, is a new video tribute to Tom of Finland and rare, vintage memorabilia.

Tom of Finland's artwork has been accepted into the Permanent Collections of major museums such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. Curator Volker Morlock brings together original artwork from Tom of Finland Foundation (ToFF) in Los Angeles, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York and private collections, with many pieces shown to the public for the very first time.

Even with progress in Gay rights today, stereotyping continues in entertainment and media, proving that a discussion about the diversity of masculine and feminine role models is as relevant now, as ever. Tom of Finland's art continues to play an important role in promoting self-confidence, openness and a positive self-image in the Gay community.

Tom of Finland was born Touko Laaksonen in 1920 in the village of Kaarina, Finland. His parents were schoolteachers who fostered their children's interest in the arts. At the age of 19, Laaksonen enrolled in a correspondence course in advertising. At that time, and for his own personal enjoyment, he created his first homoerotic drawings.

In 1940, Laaksonen was drafted into the army and served for four years as a second lieutenant. After World War II, he moved to Helsinki, where he began to work for an advertising agency.

Laaksonen continued to draw his erotic fantasies and in the conservative social climate of the mid-1950s, submitted them to the American, all-male "bodybuilding" magazine, Physique Pictorial. It was the publisher that gave him the pseudonym "Tom of Finland".

Tom of Finland's images were an immediate success and numerous publications followed. Since 1973, his work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide.

With his friend Durk Dehner, Tom of Finland founded Tom of Finland Company in 1979; Tom of Finland Foundation was formed five years later as a nonprofit Educational Archive to protect, preserve, and promote erotic art and to encourage healthier, more tolerant attitudes about sexuality.

Tom of Finland edited his first art book, Tom of Finland Retrospective, in 1988. In 1991 he was the subject of, and featured in, the film documentary Daddy and the Muscle Academy – The Art, Life, and Times of Tom of Finland. Later that year, he died of complications from emphysema.

Volker Morlock was educated in the visual arts in Germany and the United States. An art collector himself, he has been involved with Tom of Finland Foundation since 1991 and was the editor of its anthology, Tom of Finland Retrospective III. Morlock was also a consultant for Taschen Publishing on its book, Tom of Finland XXL.

Opening Reception will be held Saturday, April 14, 2012, 7:00 pm – Midnight at the World Erotic Art Museum, 1205 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, Fla. For more information visit www.TomOfFinlandFoundation.org or www.weam.com

Photo credit: Courtesy Tom of Finland Foundation, Los Angeles. Tom of Finland Foundation (ToFF) holds all copyrights. All images must be accompanied with ToFF copyright information. TOM OF FINLAND® is a registered trademark of Tom of Finland Foundation, Inc. and protected under international copyright law, Geneva Convention, 1982. Tom of Finland® Foundation, Inc., Los Angeles, California USA

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