for immediate release  


No Emergency (c. 1998) (Detail)
© Michael Kirwan

The Tom of Finland Foundation and The Erotic Museum present this solo exhibition of illustrator Michael Kirwan. Please join us for the special artist's reception. Meet Michael Kirwan in person and mingle with fellow art lovers. The evening will include DJ's, a hosted bar and all current Erotic Museum exhibitions. At the request of the artist, sales from this exhibition will contribute to the Tom of Finland Foundation's Marcello Lupetti Artists Fund.

November 17, 2005 - 7:00 - 11:00 PM
$10 General Public - $7.95 Foundation members - Free to credentialed members of the Press.
The exhibit runs through January 12, 2006.

The Erotic Museum
6741 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028

This exhibition was made possible by a generous donation from Michaeljohn Horne and Design and Decor Framers of Santa Ana.

The unique figural aesthetic of Michael Kirwan depicts a dizzying array of obscure fetishes and indulgent scenarios in lurid color. Kirwan's work falls into two categories: that work which he does to make a living and that which he does for his own personal satisfaction as an artist. Being a gay man who is often called upon to represent heterosexual scenes in his professional life give his commercial work a unique perspective. He identifies as much with the male figures (the subject of his work) as with the female (the object) and as such objectifies neither. His characters seem to express a measure of empathy with the intended audience: they are the viewer in a way, or the person he fantasizes himself to be. It is this connection with the subject that makes Kirwan's illustrations special. They are not empty shells filled with sexuality, they seem more like real growing creatures expressing a sexuality of their own.

The work on display in the exhibition is from Kirwan's professional life. The work he does in private and often shows as part of the Tom of Finland Foundation's exhibitions is a direct link to the visual heritage of that organization's namesake but with a different geographic origin. If the ghost of Tom's heroic sailors and lumberjacks still stride the Scandinavian countryside, the same spirit lives in Kirwan's unemployed salesmen and short-order cooks of the Bronx and the Waterfront. It is a common and confident male form, indulgent in it's sexuality, not apologetic.

I first got involved in this field (commercial illustration for adult magazines) back in the very early 90s I researched what other illustrators were submitting and was pretty dismayed by what I discovered. The women were depicted as vacuous interchangeable blow-up dolls who portrayed neither emotion or personality. The men, when they were even allowed in the frame, were shown as nebbish, creepy little perverts who slobbered and grasped shamelessly at the preternaturally lovely women accommodating them. This industry standard didn't sit well with me. I take a great deal of pleasure in humanizing characters and investing them with both personality and sexuality. I don't judge people. It's not my job. But illustrating porn is my job and I take pride in the fact that none of my randy little creations is debased, demeaned or derided for being different. They're horny, happy and human. I see each scene through each of the character's eyes, and everybody always sees what they like. - Michael Kirwan

The exhibition includes over 30 works by the prolific artist and a selection of original works by Tom of Finland.

For more info, visit

IMAGES: High resolution versions of images by the artist, suitable for print, and complete Artist Statement are available here.

Public link to this event.

Girls Who Do Press Contact: Sharp
Phone: 213.250.1685

November 10, 2005

T O M  O F  F I N L A N D

20 years of dedication to
protecting, preserving and promoting erotic art


1421 laveta terrace
p.o. box 26658
los angeles, ca 90026
phone 213.250.1685
fax 213.481.2092
press pages: click here

if you would like to adjust the types of materials you receive from the foundation, please click here.