One thing I definitely wanted to see while I was in Finland was the Tom of Finland exhibition at the Taide Halli (Art Hall) in Helsinki. They currently have a huge selection of Tom’s art on display, along with a large number of reference collages that he made from magazines that he scoured for pictures of good-looking young men.
By going there I discovered two things I had not known before about Touko Laaksonen. First up, he was a war hero, having been given a medal for his part in the defense of Helsinki against Russian bombing raids in WWII. Second, he was a classically trained pianist and a very good jazz musician.
The thing that surprised me most, however, was the My Little Tom of Finland pony they had in the gift shop. It is by Mari Kasurinen, who has done pony versions of many other well known people, including Darth Vader, Skeletor and Wonder Woman. You can see the whole collection here. Her My Little Cthulhu is another masterpiece.
I can’t do a post like this without including some of Tom’s art. This is the piece that both Otto and I liked best from the exhibition. Of course to be truly topical the globe needs to be rotated a bit.
The gift shop, and many stores around Helsinki, also had a selection of Tom-themed gifts. There was coffee, and also a wide range of home furnishings from Finlayson. If you really want Tom of Finland art on your sheets and pillowcases you can do so.