Tom of Finland isn’t just one of our favorite artists. He’s an inspiration. In honor of the 14th annual volume of the anthology My Gay Eye, we reached out to Durk Dehner, the co-founder and president of the Tom of Finland Foundation to talk a little bit about 10 of our favorite pieces from the latest volume. And you’ll want to make sure to get your own copy of My Gay Eye, which features more than 120 different artists over its 400 pages, alongside text contributions from Michael Bullock, Kevin Clarke, Jamison Karon and Ralf König.
1. Untitled by Tom of Finland
Here is the artist’s mastery in his craft. His adoration of the male species, and in particular black men, creating such amazing iconology. This work will be part of a volume we are currently working on, titled Black Magic.
2. avaf vs Tom of Finland (abraxas ventriloquists animal fetishists) by assume vivid astro focus
avaf is comprised of two male artists from Brazil and France. Here they are combining Tom’s work with their signature bold expression. This collaboration is also available as prints and a clothing line, available from the Tom of Finland Store.
3. Untitled by Florian Hetz
The subject, Nathan, is part of a traveling circus troupe and is as dreamy as he looks. He and Florian stayed together at TOM House during Hetz’s recent artistic residency here.
4. Durk: The Leatherman by Etienne
Dom was a close friend of Tom’s. They both thrived on the magnificence they found in men, transforming them into gods. Dom was the person who brought Tom and I together.
5. Untitled by Jan Lynch
Lost way too soon to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Lynch’s work continues to be honored here at the Tom of Finland Foundation, where it’s enjoyed and will be an inspiration for generations to come.
6. The Fireman by Patrick Lee
Patrick Lee was introduced to the Tom of Finland Foundation when he entered — and won! — our Emerging Artist Competition. I like to think that that boosted his self-confidence, helping him become a renowned artist. His take on men is rough, yet tender. His expression is so simple, yet complicated — just like a real man.
7. The Kiss by Jim Wigler
Jim Wigler’s work is everlasting. Shot 30 years ago, his work still is important to leather, gay and pop culture. We’re all drawn to passion in all forms. Jim was a friend of Tom’s and captured some amazing photos of Tom and me, early in our relationship.
8. Polka Dot Bonanza by Rinaldo Hopf
Rinaldo Hopf created this piece during his artist residency in 2017. The subjects take after Bob Mizer’s photographs of Hollywood boys. He has been a close friend of the Tom of Finland Foundation for over 30 years — and Hopf also co-edited My Gay Eye.
9. Untitled by Jim French
Jim French made a permanent mark on gay culture, leaving behind a huge, beautiful body of work. This photograph is from Colt Studio’s Manpower #6: The Leather File.
10. Ed Fury by Anthony Guyther
Guyther was a photographer for Vulcan Studio, based first in New York, then Hollywood. Bodybuilder, actor and model, Ed Fury, was at his peak of popularity at the time of this photo, both with the public and photographers. The Foundation holds a sizeable collection of early physique photography by many of the greats dating back to the mid-’50s.
Many of these artists were inspirations for each other and had a clear sense of being part of something very special. I am glad that new generations are taking advantage of what is available to them and creating a culture of their own.