"The Accommodating Friend," an appropriately graphic illustration of the same-titled Number 26 of 'Les Chansons de Bilitis' by Pierre Louÿs, depicting a reclining female figure with her legs held open above her while being penetrated by another female figure with exaggerated African features and wearing a strap-on dildo. First published in Paris in 1894, Les Chansons purported to be translations of poems by a woman named Bilitis, a contemporary and acquaintance of Sappho circa 600 B.C., and were found scandalous for their open and sensitive exploration of lesbian eroticism. In the cycle of poems, Bilitis's first sexual attraction is to the flute-playing shepherd Lykas, and many of the earlier poems concern themselves with their developing relationship. In "The Accommodating Friend" [Translation by Alvah C. Bessie], a female friend first serves as a physical substitute for Lykas:
"The storm had lasted all night. Selenis of the lovely hair had come to spin with me. She stayed for fear of the mud, and, pressed tightly each to each, we filled my tiny bed.
When young girls sleep together sleep itself remains outside the door. "Bilitis, tell me, tell me whom you love." She slipped her thigh across my own to warm me sweetly.
And she whispered into my mouth: "I know, Bilitis, whom you love. Close your eyes, I am Lykas." I answered, touching her, "Can't I tell that you are just a girl? Your joke's a clumsy one."
But she went on: "Truly I am Lykas if you close your lids. Here are his arms, here are his hands" . . . and tenderly, in the silence, she flushed my dreaming with a stranger dream."
The pioneering Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, Sergei Eisenstein, is often considered to be the "Father of Montage" and is widely acknowledged as a seminal modern artist. He is noted in particular for his silent films Strike (1924), Battleship Potemkin (1925) and October (1927), as well as the historical epics Alexander Nevsky (1938) and Ivan the Terrible (1944, 1958). A prolific writer of aesthetic and sexual theory, he was also the author of an extraordinary oeuvre of erotic drawings which have remained less known, despite a series of exhibitions and monographs devoted to them over the last 20 years, focused primarily on the collection of the Russian State Archive and examples discovered in Mexican private collections. Both celebrated and disparaged as a successful practitioner of propaganda that served the Stalinist state, Eisenstein himself was at the same time absorbed with European Decadence both as an artistic school and aesthetic sensibility. He even declared: "Had it not been for Leonardo, Marx, Lenin, Freud and the movies, I would in all probability have been another Oscar Wilde.'' (Inventory #: 12568)