What life must have been for an aspiring artist living in Paris between the 1920’s and 1940’s. Just imagine—the parties, the booze, the debauchery, and the endless source of erotic inspiration! Looking through the works of Alexander Székely, one can tell that he surrounded himself with a busy life—full of pleasure and sensual luxuries.
Alexander Szekely is elusive and not much is known of his history. However, what’s on record is that Szekely spent a lot of time visiting brothels throughout Germany and France. He made a career as a cartoonist in cabaret such as Der Liebe Augstin opened by Stella Kadmon. Between 1939 and 1964, some erotic portfolios appeared “under the counter” accompanied by his original drawings made in ink, charcoal or watercolor, sometimes captioned in German. He also illustrated Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales in the 1960s.
Crafted mostly on paper, Szekely used pen, pencil, ink and watercolor to capture a consistent theme of raucous orgies—where the wine flowed, the music played and couples frolicked with incredible joie de vivre. From our angle it appears that Szekely may have been the voyeur. Perched above and watching from a clear distance, he is able to illustrate not only the context of the events but also the rhythm.
With every image, the party seems to be alive. If your look hard enough and listen carefully, you just might hear the music and taste the sex in the air. His work is vibrant and a prime example of “freedom of expression.” He pulls back the curtain of time and offers us a glimpse of the artists decadent lifestyle during the 1920 to 40’s—really not so different as to how we live today.1