Rachel Menchior’s album of erotic drawings was the fourth and last to be published by the well-known Paris publisher Eric Losfeld, following two collections by Raymond Bertrand and one by Jean-Pierre Stholl, which you can see here and here.
All were very much of their time, but in many ways the Menchior portfolio has stood the test of time better than the very 1970s psychedelic style of Bertrand and Stholl. Menchior’s spare compositions and almost technical line hold much of the same erotic power today as they did when they shocked their audience half a century ago.
Rachel Menchior still remembers the reception of her drawings well: ‘In the early 1970s I discovered that my book had been banned, and 186 copies had been seized by the French state as obscene literature. I had to go to correctional court in Paris, defended by the late Jean Mottard. I was acquitted, but the public prosecutor having appealed, I was condemned for my contempt of good morals. Because I am a woman, of course! By then most of the printing seemed to have disappeared into thin air, though I sometimes find traces of it in Brazil or somewhere. Now it has become a collector’s item.’
The collection includes a short introduction by the Belgian playwright and poet Pierre Bourgeade (1927–2009), which interprets the theme in a sinister light surely not imagined by the artist, and tells us more about the writer than about the art: ‘The discomfort one experiences in front of Menchior’s drawings is similar to the pleasures one finds in dreams. These drawings are crimes. Living is just a fantasy. Love is only true when experienced beyond love. What spirit animates Menchior when she draws? Hatred I’m sure. Her work is an outrage. It’s a glow-in-the-dark knife. The sexes are sewn together. Imagination soars. The hand of madness does not deviate. Furious lovers give free rein to their revenge.’
Dessins érotiques was published in a limited numbered edition of 3,000 copies.