Tapis volant (Flying Carpet) is Jean Boullet’s first published work, appearing when he was just twenty-five years old. Though the details are sparse, it is clear that the young Boullet had already made the acquaintance of Jean Cocteau, probably through both of them being involved in the French Resistance; another influential gay activist in their circle was the author and activist François Sentein. It was probably these connections that encouraged Boullet to complete a portfolio of drawings and find a publisher.

Tapis volant demonstrates Boullet’s early fascination with the Arabic world, and with the fantasy of being able to fly away to find a more romantic and erotic world. The thirty-three drawings (we have only included eight of the most explicitly erotic here, as they are all very similar) are thought to be of Boullet’s young model – and probably lover – Daniel Filipacchi, shown in various oriental settings. The drawings for Tapis volant were made around the time when Boullet had admitted himself (with his mother’s assistance) into a psychiatric hospital in Suresnes, which conveniently released him from military service and gave him time to draw. As well as the printed images, we have included an original of one of the plates.

The portfolio was produced first in a small edition, with a short handwritten prologue by Cocteau, by the Paris publisher Paul Dupont. It was then reprinted later the same year by Flammarion in a limited numbered edition of 427 copies.