Keller is one of several illustrators to have been inspired by traditional fairy tales to produce imaginative erotic illustrators; among the others are Rojan, Nicole Claveloux and Silvio Cadelo. These, however, are probably the most successful, full of fantasy and strong artistic expression. The etchings of the Erotische Märchen (Erotic Fairy Tales) series, printed in dark brown and signed in the plate, feature immediately-recognisable characters from Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Frog King, Hansel and Gretel, and Snow White among others.
Each of these images demonstrates great confidence in the technique of etching, carefully composed and conceived, and using dark and light areas to powerful effect. Keller must have been thoroughly trained and experienced in the medium. And the wit and imagination of the series suggests that he was thoroughly grounded in the folk tale tradition, both the stories and their psychological and sexual interpretation – he did after all live and work in the city of Freud and Jung.
Erotische Märchen was published privately in an edition of 250 signed and numbered copies. Soon after publication it was banned by the Prussian censors and the plates destroyed, along with an unknown number of the prints.
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.