The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit Presents TOM House: The Work and Life of Tom of Finland

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit Presents TOM House: The Work and Life of Tom of Finland The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, and Graeme Flegenheimer (El Club Detroit) are pleased to present TOM House: The Work and Life of Tom of Finland, opening April 19, 2018 at Mike Kelley's Mobile Homestead at MOCAD.

In collaboration with Tom of Finland Foundation, Mike Kelley's Mobile Homestead will realize TOM House: The Work and Life of Tom of Finland. The exhibition will feature work by Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) and incorporate artists who supported and admired his work over the years, including Richard Hawkins, Robert Mapplethorpe, Raymond Pettibon, Jim Shaw, and John Waters. The presentation will also include photographs, reference materials, and ephemera.

Tom of Finland's drawings - remarkable not only for their masterful rendering, but also their fantastical representation of the male form - have been long celebrated for their radical role in broadening the popular understanding of Queer experience in art. Placed in context with his peers, the assemblage of these artworks engages a sensational narrative, one that helped define a generation.

Tom spent the last decade of his life between Finland and TOM House in Echo Park, Los Angeles, California. The exhibition will evoke the spirit of the home where Tom had his studio and lived during his final years. Tom spent his career challenging the boundaries of art and social engagement, be it through his craft or thematic pursuits. Placed in context with his contemporaries, the presented survey seeks to highlight the work of Queer artists across the globe and carry out the mission of protecting, preserving and promoting Queer art.

The exhibition will remain on view through May 19, 2018.

This exhibition contains work for mature audiences. Adults must preview before entering with young audiences.


Thursday, April 19, 6-9pm
Opening Night Events
6pm - Member Preview Hour
7pm - Public Opening Reception & Curator's Talk with Durk Dehner (President, Tom of Finland Foundation), Sharp (Vice President, Tom of Finland Foundation/Curator), Graeme Flegenheimer (Owner, El Club Detroit, Co-Curator of TOM House: The Work and Life of Tom of Finland), and Marc Ransdell-Bellenger (Curator/Community Development).

RSVP to Wayne Northcross at

Sunday, April 22, 4pm
Film Screening: Tom of Finland (2017)
Award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski brings to screen the life and work of artist Touko Valio Laaksonen (aka Tom of Finland), one of the most influential and celebrated figures of twentieth century gay culture. The film will be followed by a Q&A with exhibition curators Durk Dehner, Sharp, and Graeme Flegenheimer.
RSVP to Wayne Northcross at

Saturday, May 19, 2pm
Workshop: Naughty Drawing
Figure drawing with live models and cocktails.
RSVP to Wayne Northcross at

Exhibition and public programs are free with a suggested $5 donation.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) is an innovative addition to Detroit's vibrant Midtown neighborhood, and functions as a hub for the exploration of emerging ideas in the contemporary arts. As a non-collecting institution, MOCAD is responsive to the cultural content of our time, fueling crucial dialogue, collaboration, and public engagement. The Museum is located between the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Institute of the Arts, Wayne State University, and the College for Creative Studies. The cavernous 22,000 square foot building, a former auto dealership, has been simply renovated to maintain its raw historic character. MOCAD's ambitious series of public programs includes lectures, musical performances, films, literary readings and educational activities for area youth. Mobile Homestead, by late artist Mike Kelley, is a permanent artwork located on the grounds of the museum. It is both a public sculpture and a private, personal construction - based on the artist's childhood home on Palmer Road in Westland. The ground floor serves as a community event space by and for a diverse public, as Kelley intended. MOCAD is generously supported by individual members, private and corporate foundations, and government agencies. More information can be found at

Mike Kelley's Mobile Homestead is commissioned by Artangel in association with MOCAD, LUMA Foundation and Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts with the generous support of the Artangel International Circle. Support for Mike Kelley's Mobile Homestead is provided by the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.

In 1984, the nonprofit Tom of Finland Foundation was established by Durk Dehner (Canadian, 1949- ) and his friend Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991). As Tom established worldwide recognition as the master of homo-erotic art, the Foundation's original purpose was to preserve his vast catalog of work. Several years later the mission broadened to offer a safe haven for all erotic art in response to rampant discrimination against art that portrayed sexual behavior or generated a sexual response. Today the Foundation continues its efforts of educating the public on the cultural merits of erotic art and in promoting healthier, progressive attitudes about sexuality.

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