Touko Valio Laaksonen, the queer Finnish artist better known as Tom of Finland, died in 1991. But his iconic homoerotic drawings are as popular now as in the 1950s and ‘60s — if not more so.
On August 30, Skira releases Tom of Finland: An Imaginary Sketchbook. The 128-page book takes a step back from the super-polished illustrations you may be familiar with — presenting dozens of unfinished pencil drawings and preliminary sketches of the cowboys, cops, bikers, and studs who define Laaksonen’s work.An Imaginary Sketchbook has almost no text, save for an afterward by the book’s co-editors, Juerg Judin and Pay Matthis Karstens of Berlin’s Galerie Judin. “We intentionally didn’t do a forward, just an addendum,” Karstens told Queerty. “We wanted him to be taken seriously as an artist who doesn’t need explanation.
Like, ‘Can we just appreciate what he’s doing before we talk about the message?’”Related: 10 sexy men for Tom of Finland’s 102nd birthdayKarstens and Juden worked closely with the Tom of Finland Foundation to pull highlights from a more extensive collection of Laaksonen’s sketches, some of which appeared in public for the first time in a 2017 exhibition.“We wanted to show a spectrum of what he drew and how he drew,” Karstens said. “Not just ones where every line is perfect.
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