Collage by Toyen

Double Sided Collage Recto-Toyen 1970
Double Sided Collage Recto-Toyen 1970
Double Sided Collage Verso-Toyen 1970
Double Sided Collage Verso-Toyen 1970

During the 1960’s and 70’s the Czech Surrealist Toyen gradually abandoned painting and concentrated on producing exquisitely dreamy drypoints and double-sided collages notable for their visual wit, conciseness and razor sharp composition.

As I have noted in a previous post Toyen lived in Andre Breton‘s studio after his death in 1966. Located slap bang in the middle of the red-light district I always fondly imagine that the elderly but still subversive and transgressive creator of these collages and the illustrator of Edition 69 would have been quite content in such a spot.




Edition 69

Toyen-Le Puits dans la tour/Debris de reves-1967

Regular readers will be aware of the high esteem that I hold the mysterious, brilliant artist and co-founder of the Czech Surrealist Group, Toyen, through the many posts that have featured her extra-ordinary artwork. However while I have certainly noted the influence of the erotic upon her work ( notably At the Chateau La Coste), I have refrained from featuring her more explicit drawings that she produced for Edition 69 (see Dreams of Desire 34 (Emilie Comes To Me In A Dream) and throughout her career, instead concentrating on her marvellous paintings and lithographs (see The Myth of Light, Horror and The Shooting Gallery); however these erotic drawings and dry-points are exceptional in their technical execution, mastery of line (unsurpassed within the Surrealist group, with the possible exception of the supremely disquieting Hans Bellmer), visual wit and power to cause unease.

Below are some of Toyen’s illustrations for the Edition 69 series, which included Justine by the Marquis De Sade and Pybrac by that urbane decadent writer and pornographer Pierre Louys, which is without doubt the filthiest poem ever published. Also included are later dry-point illustrations from Radovan Ivsic’s Le Puit dans la tour/Derbis de reves (The Well in the tower/Debris of dreams).

Dreams of Desire 34 (Emilie Comes To Me In A Dream)

Emilie Comes To Me In A Dream-Jindrich Styrsky-1933

The sixth and final volume of Edition 69, a series of erotic publications combining art and literature that showcased the talents of Jindrich Styrsky, Toyen and others of the Czech avant-garde, saw the publication of Jindrich Styrsky’s  Emilie Comes To Me In A Dream, an Surrealist erotic text with accompanying explicit collages, that featured images culled from French and British pornographic publications of the period. Because of censorship, the magazine was strictly limited to subscribers, in the case of Emilie Comes To Me In A Dream the number of copies issued was, appropriately enough, 69, of which only 20 now survive.

Here is a brief excerpt from the text, which is as disturbing, dreamlike, erotic and Surreal as the accompanying image above:

Later I placed an aquarium in the window. In it I cultivated a golden-haired vulva and a magnificent specimen of a penis with a blue eye and delicate veins on its temples. In time, however, I threw in everything I had ever loved: shards of broken teacups, hairpins, Barbara’s slipper, light bulbs, shadows, cigarette butts, sardine tins, my entire correspondence, and used condoms. Many strange creatures were born in this world; I considered myself a creator, and with justification. When I later had the box sealed shut, I gazed with satisfaction at the putrefaction of my dreams, until the walls became so covered in mould it was no longer possible to see anything. Yet I was certain that everything I loved in the world existed therein.