Frontispiece by Fernand Khnopff to Joséphin Péladan’s Istar (1888)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The frontispiece[1] by Fernand Khnopff to Joséphin Péladan’s Istar (1888) is a famous example of tentacle eroticism.

This drawing was the subject of an illustration in a special issue of the Viennese art journal Ver Sacrum, in December 1898.

The frontispiece depicts a woman, head thrown back in ecstasy and completely devoid of surrounding except for a phallic tentacled plant that grows toward her pubic area. Inside the plant tentacles can be seen a Medusa-like head.

Jean Delville noted in his comment on Khnopff’s work:

Khnopff has created a type of ideal woman. Are they really women? Are they not rather imaginary feminites? They partake at the same time of the Idol, of the Chimera, of the Sphinx and of the Saint. They are rather plastic androgynes, subtle symbols, conceived according to an abstract idea and rendered visible. (Howe, 48)

Khnopff completed several frontispieces for Peladan, notably Istar and Pallentes Radere Mores, 1888, Ghent.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Frontispiece by Fernand Khnopff to Joséphin Péladan’s Istar (1888)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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