Narrated by an unnamed young man looking back on his exploits, Georges Bataille’s 1928 short novel Histoire de l’oeil describes the sexual perversions of a pair of teenage lovers. Simone is his primary female partner, but the narrative includes two important secondary figures, Marcelle, a mentally ill sixteen-year-old girl who comes to a sad end, and Lord Edmund, a voyeuristic English émigré aristocrat. Though often portrayed as pure pornography, interpretation of the story has gradually matured to reveal considerable philosophical and emotional depth, its imagery built upon a series of metaphors which in turn refer to philosophical constructs developed in Bataille’s wider work on the erotic, including the eye, the vagina, the anus, the testicle, the egg, the sun and the earth – uncomfortable connections which Yves Milet-Desfougères explores in this privately-commissioned portfolio.

The style of these complex images, drawn in coloured pencil, owes much to the work of Hans Bellmer and André Masson, both of whom Milet-Desfougères holds in high esteem.

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.