‘The Darkroom’ exhibit showcases Tom of Finland’s rare photography

After going to queer spaces for so many years, it’s highly unlikely that you’ve never seen any artwork by or inspired by Tom of Finland. 

Late and great artist Tom of Finland — born Touko Laaksonen — is considered the one of the originators of modern gay erotic art. You’ve seen his art everywhere, from galleries to men’s restroom stalls, and now a new exhibit in New York City wants to show you where it all started. 

Photo from Instagram @tomoffinlandfoundation

Produced in collaboration with the Tom of Finland Foundation and curated by Berndt Arell, the new exhibit The Darkroom at Fotografiska New York includes some of the artist’s earlier photographic portraits of friends, which later served as reference images for his iconic illustrations. The exhibit also serves as a celebration of the legendary artist’s 100th birthday. 

The photographs were hidden for a very long time, due to the fact that homosexuality was illegal at the time. Homosexual desire was once relegated to dark closets and dungeons, hence the name of the exhibit, The Darkroom

Photo from Instagram @tomoffinlandfoundation

But now, with “swelling muscles and genitals”, and “extremely masculine and erotically confident men who enjoy sex together”, Tom of Finland’s drawings leave no one unaffected. 

”This never before shown treasure trove of images gives a deeper insight into how his skilfully drawn super-macho men were created. Each drawing could consist of several references from several different photographs.”, says curator Berndt Arell.

Photo from Instagram @tomoffinlandfoundation

The exhibition, which premiered last summer at Fotografiska Stockholm, is now open at Fotografiska New York City through Pride season and closing August 20. 

For more information, visit

Follow the Tom of Finland Foundation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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