Das gemeinsame Ziel und Andere (The Common Goal and Others) is Willi Geiger’s only portfolio to deal specifically with sex and power; its banning and partial destruction by the Reichsgericht (Imperial Court) of Leipzig being a salutary reminder that such transgressive art was all too often met with official denunciation. After this traumatic experience Geiger produced individual etchings with an erotic theme, but never another series.

The title conveys much of Geiger’s thinking as he created the highly original prints for Das gemeinsame Ziel, ‘gemeinsame’ conveying the shared responsibility of and for intimacy, while as well as goal ‘Ziel’ can be interpreted as its target, objective, or destination. There is much to take in with each print, the accompanying jagged calligraphy providing a clue to its interpretation.

The limitation page of one of the surviving copies of the large-paper edition; in Geiger’s handwriting he has added ‘The whole edition was destroyed (Reichsgericht Leipzig). Only four sorrowful copies were saved.’

The prints were created in Rome between December 1905 and February 1906. A small folio edition was printed in Rome in 1906, followed by a larger loose portfolio in Leipzig in 1907; each print run was of just one hundred. When the large-paper version appeared it was almost immediately confiscated by the Reichsgericht and destroyed; Geiger believed that only four copies had escaped their attention. Fortunately the original prints for the portfolio survived, given to Geiger’s friend the poet Max Dauthenday for safekeeping.

The text below each of the plates is as follows:

  1   Lasset die Kleinen zu mir kommen (Suffer the little ones to come unto me)
  2   Der Lustrüssel (The Pleasure Chest)
  3   Das Vergissmeinicht
          Gestern schwur ich unter 1000 Küssen
          Im Gunusse ihrer Zärtlichkeit
          Ewige Verschwiegenheit
          Heute muss es der Chirurgus wissen
          (altdeutsches Epigramm)
      (The Forget-me-not
          Yesterday I swore with 1000 kisses
          In praise of her tenderness
          Eternal secrecy
          But today the doctor needs to know
          (old German epigram))
  4   Die Hure (The Prostitute)
  5   Der Fußfetischist (The Foot Fetishist)
  6   Der Leichenschänder (The Grave Robber)
  7   Onan, oder Die Locke der Madame du Furiel (Onan, or The Lock of Madame du Furiel’s Hair)
  8   Das Mädchen mit dem Flussbarsch, oder Die Wonnen des Lasters (The Girl with the Perch, or The Bliss of Vice)
  9   Ego ad flagella paratus sum (I am Ready for the Scourge)
10   Das gemeinsame Ziel (The Common Goal)
11   Mariä Heimsuchung (Visitation of the Virgin Mary)

We are very grateful to Hans-Jürgen Döpp for these images; Hans-Jürgen, the compiler of many books on erotic art, curates the Venusberg online gallery and bookshop which you can find here.