Tom of Finland Foundation (ToFF) President and Co-founder Durk Dehner has been knighted by the Chancery of the Orders of the White Rose of Finland and the Lion of Finland. The Order of the Lion of Finland is awarded in recognition of outstanding civilian or military conduct, and the President of the Republic of Finland has the exclusive right to confer their decorations as Grand Master of the Orders. Dehner received the honor from Paula Parviainen, Ambassador for Culture and Creative Industries, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Dehner’s knighthood is given on the occasion of the new Tom of Finland exhibition Bold Journey, which opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma on April 28th, 2023.
“The friendship and collaboration between the iconic Tom of Finland, born Tuoko Laaksonen, and Durk Dehner has had a huge impact on how the global gay community has become proud of their identity. By starting Tom of Finland Foundation in 1984 they wanted to protect, preserve and promote homoerotic culture in a world that was not ready for it. Dehner has continued the legacy and created a community around Tom of Finland Foundation and TOM House in Los Angeles, which now has been designated as a Historic-Cultural Monument. In Finland, we see this as a great achievement in promoting human rights and personal freedoms. We want to acknowledge the lifetime work of Durk Dehner and everything he has done for Finland and human rights,” says Paula Parviainen, Ambassador for Culture and Creative Industries, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
“It has been my great honor to champion Tom of Finland in the cultural consciousness”, comments Dehner, Knight of the Order of the Lion of Finland. “He is the ‘golden boy’ in that saying his name can open doors. Harvey Shipley Miller of the Judith Rothschild Foundation stated in 2006 that Tom of Finland was one of the five most influential artists of the twentieth century. In my time, I have seen Tom’s work emerge from the shadows of censorship to the walls of internationally renowned museums. He paved the pathway for others to follow.”
”Having followed Durk Dehner’s commitment to Tom of Finland for over thirty years, I am speechless at all that he has accomplished. Bringing Tom, his persona and his art, with its multifaceted dimensions, into the global consciousness certainly hasn’t been a simple task. But I hope today Dehner can agree it has been a gratifying one. I remain eternally grateful to him,” says ToFF Finland Liaison Susanna Luoto.
Founded in 1984 to protect, preserve and promote the art of Tom of Finland, Tom of Finland Foundation is based in Los Angeles. Approaching its fortieth anniversary, ToFF now holds hundreds of artists’ work and thousands of artifacts in its permanent collection and archives. ToFF also offers a robust artist-in-residency program, the biennial Tom of Finland Emerging Artist Competition, and regular Tom of Finland Art & Culture Festivals around the world.
Tom of Finland: Bold Journey runs at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland until October 29th, 2023.
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