Le nid (The Nest), 1973

By his own admission, sex and sexual conventions were a perennial theme of Topor’s graphic imagination, but it is in this portfolio of pornography-inspired creations that we see his mind fully engaged in the relationship between popular imagery, wordplay, and his trademark surrealist artwork.

For L’Epikon, he chose eight images which portray their participants in fairly ‘conventional’ porn situations, and photocopied them, reducing the shapes to patches of light and dark. He then created and handwrote limericks to go with each image, attaching the photocopy to the foot of the page. Then he let his imagination free, creating a new artwork to accompany each original, in the process maintaining much of the composition and general feeling yet taking each situation to the extreme it conceivably suggests.

The result is a wry and pointed commentary on pornographic imagery, a rare achievement in erotic art.

For each of the eight photographs which are the inspiration for the prints, the accompanying erotic limerick is given below with their English translation (if anyone wants to try rendering them into true rhyming limericks in English, feel free).

Une putain de Las Vegas
Qui habitait dans un palace,
Avait recourt à une astuce
Pour apprivoiser les phallus
Elle illuminant sa conasse.

     A whore from Las Vegas
     Who lived in a palace,
     Resorted to a trick
     To tame the phallus:
     She lit up her cunt.

Une habitante d’Amsterdam
Avait un faible pour les dames.
Il lui suffisait d’une motte
Pour décharger dans sa culotte
Tant elle avait de vague à l’âme

     A resident of Amsterdam
     Had a soft spot for the women.
     He just needed a wad
     To unload in her twat
     She felt such a rush through her blood.

Une étudiante de Harvard
Avait du goût pour l’avant garde.
Elle avait orné ses muqueuses
De miniatures scandaleuses
Où dominait le vert-moutarde.

     A female Harvard student
     Had a taste for the avant-garde.
     She adorned her orifices
     With outrageous miniatures
     In which green mustard featured.

Dans le Simplon-Orient Express,
Un douanier sans delicatesse
Prétendit écarter les cuisses
D’une femme, venant de Suisses,
Afin de lui fouiller les fesses.

     On the Simplon-Orient Express,
     A customs officer without delicacy
     Pretended to spread the thighs
     Of a woman coming from Switzerland,
     In order to search her arse.

Une bourgeoise de Genève
Avait toujours le mème rêve:
Tandis que son mari dormait,
La table de nuit s’animait
Et lui faisait l’amour sans trêve.

     A gentlewoman from Geneva
     Always had the same dream:
     While her husband was sleeping,
     The nightstand came alive
     And made endless love to her.

A Brest, tout près de l’arsenal
Vivait une femme bancale.
Lorsqu’elle se faisait enculer,
Elle basculait sur le côté,
Et parfois se faisait très mal.

     In Brest, close to the arsenal,
     An unsteady woman lived.
     When she was being fucked in the ass,
     She rocked from side to side,
     And sometimes got hurt very badly.

A Varsovie, une concierge,
Par pieté suçait les cierges.
A force de fourbir le suif
Elle se mettait les lèvres à vif
Et rougissait comme une vierge.

     In Warsaw, a concierge
     Sucked candles out of piety.
     By dint of polishing the tallow
     She put life between her lips
     And blushed like a virgin.

Une fillette de Strasbourg
Avait appris à faire l’amour
Sur une table de billard.
Elle en gardait les yeux hazards
Et un peu de bleu tout autour.

     A young girl from Strasbourg
     Had learned to make love
     On a pool table.
     She kept her eyes on any dangers
     With a little blue dabbed round them.

L’Epikon was published by Editeur Yves Riviere in a numbered edition of 175 copies.

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.