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Move to erect Tom of Finland statue in Helsinki

City councilors in Helsinki have tabled a motion to erect a statue in honour of the late Finnish homoerotic artist Touko Laaksonen, better known as Tom of Finland. If the idea gains traction, funding for the memorial will not come from city coffers, since public funds are not normally used to bankroll monuments to individuals.

Tom of Finland -postimerkki.
Image: Itella Posti Oy / Finland

City councilors in Helsinki have tabled a motion to put up a statue celebrating Finland’s renowned homoerotic artist, Touko Laaksonen, or Tom of Finland (1921 - 1991). The statue would stand in front of the new central library, which is to be completed in 2017, in time for the centenary of Finnish independence.

Another option to commemorate Laaksonen would be to set up a permanent display of his life and work in the library’s lobby.

The city of Helsinki does not generally finance monuments to individuals. Similar memorials have been constructed with the help of donors who have then taken on responsibility for funding and management of the project.

Such benefactors have generally been associations or foundations established for the specific purpose of executing the memorial project.

Broad international recognition

Tom of Finland was well known for his fetish art and his influence on modern gay culture. He was a highly prolific artist, producing more than 3,000 illustrations of gay men clad in tight or scanty clothing, often in provocative poses.

Last spring national postal services provider Posti aroused attention worldwide when it issued a series of steamy postage stamps celebrating the work of the late Finnish artist, as interpreted by graphic designer Tom Berry. Pre-orders for the saucy postage stamps came from 178 different countries with Sweden, Britain, the United States and France topping the list.

Later in autumn 2014 the Finnish textile company Finlayson issued a series of bed and bath linens showcasing the in-your-face art. The household textiles are so far available in in Europe, the US and Australia.

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