Jean Cocteau is perhaps best known for his films, in particular, his elegant, candlelit classic take on Beauty and the Beast. He was a kind of renaissance man, with achievements in literature as well as film and art. He was not a Surrealist, though that movement did influence some of his work. His work is deeply informed by myth and fairy tale; the figure of Orpheus shadows much of his cinematic work. Like the musician Orpheus explored the shadowy underworld, the artist Cocteau explored the subconscious and its language of myth and symbol.
As much as I like his films, it’s his highly idiosyncratic artwork that entices me. The drawings have a child-like simplicity but are deeply mischievous, and, in some cases, openly homoerotic.