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Dirty Pictures: Tom of Finland, Masculinity, and Homosexuality

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In this groundbreaking study of the art of Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991), better known as Tom of Finland, Micha Ramakers explores the incredible and defining impact Tom's work has had upon the culture at large. It is work whose erotic and emotional power remains unabated to this day. Lavishly illustrated with drawings and photographs, Dirty Pictures is a lively and entertain In this groundbreaking study of the art of Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991), better known as Tom of Finland, Micha Ramakers explores the incredible and defining impact Tom's work has had upon the culture at large. It is work whose erotic and emotional power remains unabated to this day. Lavishly illustrated with drawings and photographs, Dirty Pictures is a lively and entertaining book encompassing the rise of the gay movement, the world of fine art, and the function (and the functioning) of pornography. For the millions of fans of Tom's work throughout the world, as well as readers unfamiliar with his work, this study brings uncommon insight into Tom of Finland's decidedly uncommon work.


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In this groundbreaking study of the art of Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991), better known as Tom of Finland, Micha Ramakers explores the incredible and defining impact Tom's work has had upon the culture at large. It is work whose erotic and emotional power remains unabated to this day. Lavishly illustrated with drawings and photographs, Dirty Pictures is a lively and entertain In this groundbreaking study of the art of Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991), better known as Tom of Finland, Micha Ramakers explores the incredible and defining impact Tom's work has had upon the culture at large. It is work whose erotic and emotional power remains unabated to this day. Lavishly illustrated with drawings and photographs, Dirty Pictures is a lively and entertaining book encompassing the rise of the gay movement, the world of fine art, and the function (and the functioning) of pornography. For the millions of fans of Tom's work throughout the world, as well as readers unfamiliar with his work, this study brings uncommon insight into Tom of Finland's decidedly uncommon work.

30 review for Dirty Pictures: Tom of Finland, Masculinity, and Homosexuality

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel

    I'm reviewing this book, which I have not seen or read since I was 11 years old, to tell a funny story. When I was a kid, my mom often left me in Barnes and Nobles to entertain myself while she ran errands or shopped or whatever. This was in Portland, OR. I guess she thought I was too interested in the books to succumb to stranger danger, and I never did encounter any dangerous strangers within the walls of a Barnes and Noble. So mostly I read science fiction and fantasy novels and comic books -- I'm reviewing this book, which I have not seen or read since I was 11 years old, to tell a funny story. When I was a kid, my mom often left me in Barnes and Nobles to entertain myself while she ran errands or shopped or whatever. This was in Portland, OR. I guess she thought I was too interested in the books to succumb to stranger danger, and I never did encounter any dangerous strangers within the walls of a Barnes and Noble. So mostly I read science fiction and fantasy novels and comic books -- I read Bill Watterson's entire trade-published Calvin and Hobbes run in a series of bookstores - but sometimes strayed into nonfiction and other parts of the store. So I was 11, and I must've been in sociology or art history at the time, when I saw the spine of a book called Dirty Pictures. Of course, being me, and being 11, I definitely wanted to look at dirty pictures! And thus I pulled out this book on the history of Tom of Finland and gay erotica, and came face-to-face with my first exposure to explicit illustrated man-to-man fucking. I was very interested. So there I sat, on the floor of an Oregon Barnes and Noble, interested somewhat (and genuinely, but somewhat) in the art history and social history recounted in the text, and moreso in the pictures of leatherclad bikers with bulging erections and sexy policemen pulling over willing, sultry speeding drivers (I assume) (I'm not sure I was clear on what they were being pulled over for), and all manner of other stuff, and a lot of improbably sized cock, when-- -- my mom turns up! Standing over me, while I am absorbed in my book. "Hi, what are you reading?" she says. And it hits me like the hammer of God all at once that maybe this reading material is a teensy bit less mother-approved than other things I read, and I need to play it off, and I need to play it off quick. So I glance up all casual-like, with a straight face, and say -- bored and innocent -- "An art book." I mean, technically true. Covering bases. So that's the story of how Tom of Finland, and specifically Dirty Pictures: Tom of Finland, Masculinity, and Homosexuality furnished my thirsty little gay imagination and gave me a boost in what would become my illustrious and shameless lying career. Thanks, Tom. So the thumpathumpa/joyful corruption of youth/appreciation of burly men with big dicks continues. It always will, no matter what happens, no matter who's president. As our Lady of Disco, the divine Miss Gloria Gaynor, has always sung to us: "We will survive."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brian Kovesci

    Scratching the surface of Tom of Finland’s body of work, presenting his work as more complex than a cursory reading of pornography.

  3. 5 out of 5

    LARRY

    As posted in [http://www.amazon.com]: All gay men should know who Tom of Finland is. You're bound to see a picture or two in gay bookstores, bars and galleries. If you're not familiar with Tom, then you need to get out more often! I found *Dirty Pictures* not just fascinating with these wonderful and eye-catching pictures but educational with Tom of Finland's background and his intentions/purposes behind each pictures. It's amazing how having a network with friends can lead one to be legendary, i As posted in [http://www.amazon.com]: All gay men should know who Tom of Finland is. You're bound to see a picture or two in gay bookstores, bars and galleries. If you're not familiar with Tom, then you need to get out more often! I found *Dirty Pictures* not just fascinating with these wonderful and eye-catching pictures but educational with Tom of Finland's background and his intentions/purposes behind each pictures. It's amazing how having a network with friends can lead one to be legendary, if you could call it that. Prior to meeting Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorne, Tom of Finland's works were just considered pornographic. Over time, that gradually changed. I wished this book contained all of Tom's pictures, along with a background for each of them. However, with what knowledge that I've learned here, I cannot wait to see the other works of Tom's and do my own analyses. That's the fun part.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    Tom of Finland created a beautiful science fiction universe where everybody was gay and was happy being gay. In this way I think it's a terrible crime that he never received a Hugo award, but hindsight is always 20/20. Whatever the case there isn't an artist right now who has made such a profound impact upon my life as much as Tom of Finland, and so whenever I can find any books or writings which explore his life and work it's a must-own. This book has the advantage then of not only being about Tom of Finland created a beautiful science fiction universe where everybody was gay and was happy being gay. In this way I think it's a terrible crime that he never received a Hugo award, but hindsight is always 20/20. Whatever the case there isn't an artist right now who has made such a profound impact upon my life as much as Tom of Finland, and so whenever I can find any books or writings which explore his life and work it's a must-own. This book has the advantage then of not only being about Tom's work, but also being an incredible analysis and testament to his art. Ramakers does a service to art scholars as well as queer men, by taking the principle that regardless of whether or not Tom's work is pornography it is worthy of study because of the effect it has had upon the lives of queer men. Ramakers observes almost every facet of Tom's work, whether it's race, the role of the penis, the construction of masculinity, the role (or lack of one) that women play in the art, and the various fashions his men embody to understand how Tom of Finland created a new model of masculinity for queer men to embody and adopt for their own. Ramakers observes that in Tom's universe queer men were no longer limited to the role of the "fairy" or the "queen," and in fact they could be strong, powerful, and happy in their sexuality. Ramakers book is an academic study and so at times the language can be a bit dense, but this volume is still highly readable to even the most casual reader, and there's plenty of actual illustrations by Tom, some of which I had never seen before. Dirty Pictures is a must read for any fan of Tom's work, and Ramaker's book is a reminder that, even today, Queer men are constantly looking for a satisfying sexual identity. Tom of Finland created a pornography that satisfied the appetites of many individual men, but he also provided them a feeling of self-worth that, as Ramaker notes, is still being felt today.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Blue

    One of my youth club's parents handed me this to read for a course I took last year on LGBTQ+ History. I never got round to reading it until recently, I finished the last page today. This is a pretty detailed and fascinating look into the art work of Tom of Finland and how this art work help with the LGBTQ+ movement. One of my youth club's parents handed me this to read for a course I took last year on LGBTQ+ History. I never got round to reading it until recently, I finished the last page today. This is a pretty detailed and fascinating look into the art work of Tom of Finland and how this art work help with the LGBTQ+ movement.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    An academic book about Tom of Finland? TOTALLY! This was a great read with lots of hottt pictures. Looking at race, class, gender and sexuality in Tom's work and the context it was created in, and how gay culture was shaped by Tom's rich fantasy world that he so vividly captured in his art...he once said that he only knew a drawing was successful if he had to pause in the middle of drawing it because he became too aroused. I loved learning more about Tom's background and the ascent of his work, An academic book about Tom of Finland? TOTALLY! This was a great read with lots of hottt pictures. Looking at race, class, gender and sexuality in Tom's work and the context it was created in, and how gay culture was shaped by Tom's rich fantasy world that he so vividly captured in his art...he once said that he only knew a drawing was successful if he had to pause in the middle of drawing it because he became too aroused. I loved learning more about Tom's background and the ascent of his work, particularly how it was embedded in the international gay culture that he participated in and helped to create. The book argues that perhaps his work is more powerful when considered as pornography rather than fine art and serves a function in creating visibility and identity within a particular gay male subculture...perhaps some of that is lost when his work is in museums...at the same time the validation is important in making the world more accepting of gay sex...I love thinking about these questions of assimilation versus the power of maintaining a radical existence on the fringes that pushes the mainstream, and this book ably feeds those thoughts.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Freyja Vanadis

    Partly a biography of Tom of Finland (real name Touko Laaksonen), partly a description of his art, partly an essay about masculinity and where gay men fit into it. He was a fantastic artist, although by his own admission he couldn't draw women to save his life. The few pictures of women I've seen are absolutely terrible. At best, they look like men dressing up as women, or transgenders. It makes me wonder if he even knew any women besides those in his family, and how often he saw them. I mean, a Partly a biography of Tom of Finland (real name Touko Laaksonen), partly a description of his art, partly an essay about masculinity and where gay men fit into it. He was a fantastic artist, although by his own admission he couldn't draw women to save his life. The few pictures of women I've seen are absolutely terrible. At best, they look like men dressing up as women, or transgenders. It makes me wonder if he even knew any women besides those in his family, and how often he saw them. I mean, at least he could have taken a picture of a woman and copied it, instead of drawing freehand. At any rate, I loved this book and I'm not gonna lie, I bought it for the pictures and not the articles :)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brett Cummings

  9. 5 out of 5

    Everythinggay

    Hilarious exploration of gayness in our prized modern institutions

  10. 5 out of 5

    Diego Alonso

  11. 4 out of 5

    Finn Johnson

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dr. LS

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brian Adams-THies

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lark

  16. 5 out of 5

    Scott Frank

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hasan Gafar

  18. 4 out of 5

    bill k

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joey King

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nikola

  21. 4 out of 5

    Henry881022

  22. 5 out of 5

    Steven Moore

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Warren

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kiki

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brent Calderwood

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jer Keaough

  27. 4 out of 5

    kevin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Isaac

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Wilcox

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lynsie

    Great if you just want Tom of Finland pictures, ok if you want to actually read it.

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