Allegorie der Liebe (Allegory of Love), Darmstadt Mathildenhöhe, 1907

This portfolio of twelve etchings, its cover suggesting that it was created by ‘Efwe Ornikleios’ and published in ‘Kythera’, appears to be the only erotic work produced by Kleukens. ‘Orni kleios’ (oρνί κλειος) is Greek for ‘cock vulture’, and ‘Efwe‘ (عَفْو) Arabic for ‘pardon’, hence ‘Pardon the Cock Vulture’, an appropriate artist’s pseudonym given the subject matter. Kythera or Kithira is a sunny Mediterranean island off the southern tip of Greece.

It has to be said that in Zwölf Radierungen Kleukens does not shine; neither the medium nor the subject inspire his best work – he was a designer and typographer more than an artist. Most of the subjects depicted had been thoroughly and successfully explored by others, though the aeolian harp and cock-tip dancers are original sparks of wit. Maybe it was just that any artist wanting to complete their oeuvre in the early 1920s needed to make such a portfolio.

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.