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6 epic, homoerotic artworks by winners of the Tom of Finland Emerging Artist Competition

Russell Tovey co-judges 2020 contest - which has just put out a final call for entries

2020-11-11

(Words: Jamie Tabberer; above: Jose L De Juan - Wet (2005, First Prize winner 2005 - full work below)

Who is the smouldering spiritual father of homoerotic art? Why, Tom of Finland of course.

During his lifetime, the Finnish artist and gay icon became known for his absurdly hypermasculine depictions of denim/leather/uniform-clad men. (Handsome, hand drawn example below).

(Above: Tom of Finland - Untitled [Character study for Sex on the Train], 1974 © Tom of Finland Foundation; all images provided by Tom of Finland Foundation)

Since dying in 1991 at the age 71, the spirit of Finland - real name Touko Valio Laaksonen - lives on in his work, and also the generations of artists who have drawn influence from him.

This includes past winners of the Tom of Finland Emerging Artist Contest - which, in 2020 is celebrating its 10th outing.

Jose L De Juan - Wet (2005, First Prize winner 2005)

As the comp puts out a final call for 2020 entries (the closing date is this Sunday 15 November), we're taking a look at some of the victors of past years: enclosed are a range of works by various First and Grand Prize winners.

The contest has grown in popularity and esteem each year; this time around it will be judged by high-profile names like fashion icon JW Anderson, filmmaker Matt Lambert, artist and musician Seth Bogart, actor Russell Tovey and Robert Diament of Talk Art Silvia Prada.

Joseph Conder - 21st Century Christ Figure (2013, First Prize winner 2013)

"It is super exciting to see new work"

SR Sharp, Vice President of the Tom of Finland Foundation told Attitude of the contest: "We have seen a lot of artwork here at the Foundation in our 30 years, as you can imagine.

Martin Bradley Jacobs - Lucky Strike (2014, First Prize winner 2014)

"It is super exciting to see new work and being able to give emerging artists the encouragement they so deserve.

"We are in awe of the self-confidence it takes to have your work judged."

Kevin Francis - Untitled (2009, Grand Prize Winner 2009)

This year's contest is also in celebration of Laaksonen's 100th birth year, and the Foundation’s 36th year in operation. (It was established 1984).

According to the Tom of Finland Foundation's site, 'the purpose of this contest is twofold: to encourage artists to share their erotic work and to elevate the field of erotic art by rewarding some of the best current examples. 

Roy D. Smith - Lovers (2012, First Prize winner 2012)

'The contest is open to any artist with the exception of previous winners of this contest, or artists who are already selling erotic work commercially. All others are eligible: advertising designers, art students, or just midnight doodlers – anyone who creates erotic works of art.'

To enter or for more information about the Foundation - which 'promotes, protects and preserves' erotic art - visit the official website.

Steam - Satyr (2002, Grand Prize Winner 2003)

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