(Art) The X-rated architecture of Jean-Jacques Lequeu [NSFW]

Later this year, the Petit Palais in Paris will host an exhibition on one of the most enigmatic and little-known figures in architecture, Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1757-1825), whose fanciful, unorthodox, yet exactingly illustrated designs were just as grandiose as his contemporary (and better known) archrivals Etienne-Louis Boullee (1728-99) and Claude-Nicholas Ledoux (1736-1806). (Boullee’s cenotaph to Newton made an earlier appearance on this blog.)

But where the latter were true neoclassicists who captured the narcissistic, almost megalomaniacal grandeur of the Age of Reason, Lequeu was a maverick whose descent into madness is chronicled in the drawings he bequeathed to the French National Library some six months before he died, penniless and unknown.

But Lequeu didn’t restrict himself to blurprints, and after seeing his aptly-named “Figures Lascives” (lascivious images), it’s impossible not to interpret his architectural designs — arches and porticos, towers and grottos — as overtly sexual, a fact noted by the New York Times in a 1987 article entitled “These Buildings are X-Rated:”

After seeing those arresting anatomical renderings, superficially objective but deeply prurient in their depiction of female and male genitalia, it is impossible to look again at Lequeu’s architectural drawings without a new sense of their tumescent contours, scopophilic detailing and biomorphic transposition of classical motifs.  The doors and windows of Lequeu’s villas, temples and gazebos seem more like inviting orifices than utilitarian openings; columns become insistently phallic, fountains joyously orgasmic…

They include a cow barn in the shape of an Assyrian bovine; an erotic garden folly called the ”Hammock of Love,” replete with a copulating couple; a priapic fountain in a Gothic tabernacle and two self-portraits in drag.

Here is the link the exhibit.