The work of iconic gay artist Tom of Finland will be honoured this fall when it appears on a new set of stamps released by the Finnish postal service, Itella Posti Oy.
Set to be rolled out between September and October 2014, the three Tom of Finland stamps were unveiled this week by the postal service on its blog, alongside seven additional sets of stamps featuring the works of other prominent Finnish artists.
"His emphatically masculine homoerotic drawings have attained iconic status in their genre and had an influence on, for instance, pop culture and fashion," reads a press release issued by the Itella Posti Oy. "In his works, Tom of Finland utilized the self-irony and humor typical of subcultures."
The release, which also hails the artist's work as "confident and proud homoeroticism" goes on to note that the self-adhesive stamps will be launched in conjunction with an art exhibition dedicated to Tom Finland in the Postal Museum.
While Tom of Finland (whose real name was Touko Laaksonen) died in 1991, his work lives on as some of the most iconic and daring of its kind.Within the LGBT and arts communities, he is legendary.
"He created an archive of erotica with a distinct aesthetic – vast-shouldered men in leather, denim and knee-high boots – that is said to have influenced figures including Robert Mapplethorpe, Freddie Mercury and the Village People," writes the Guardian's Kira Chochrane. "[His works] are considerably more erotic than those usually seen on any nation's envelopes."
"His sketches, often explicit, were unapologetic depictions of gay sex and relationships," wrote Soraya Nadia McDonald, similarly, for the Washington Post. "Laaksonen’s subjects were almost always muscle-bound, handsome figures, often bursting out of their clothes. His work, a meditation on masculinity, was also heavy on leather fetish imagery."
Being one of the most well-known Finnish artists in the world with more than 3,500 drawings to his name, it makes sense that Tom of Finland was chosen for the honor of having his work appear on stamps — and yet, in a country where gay marriage is not yet legal, the fact that his graphic homoerotic works are being celebrated by the post office has come as a surprise to some.
by Lauren O’Neil
by Lauren O’Neil