„The paper by-products preserved from my tour of France include a sketchbook plus a pile of medium-size drawings on which gull feathers and a bamboo reed have produced an all but unbroken line forming the heads of men and women who were close enough to sketch for sufficiently long intervals in cafés, on park benches, in the Métro, and in my various sleeping quarters.”
This is how Günter Grass describes the fruits of his pictorial labors during his trip to France in the summer of 1952. His engagement with French modernism inspire him to create works reflecting the influence of Raoul Dufy, Chaim Soutine, and, not least, of Pablo Picasso. Among them is this ink drawing of a kissing, naked couple surrounded by a dense network of lines. It is not clear whether the lovers are in a bed or outdoors. The sheet forms part of a series of similar figurative drawings influenced by the Catalan artist. Picasso thus drafts entire scenes, such as circus performances, animals, or human figures, with a single continuous line. Grass takes inspiration from the method for his own experiments with shapes, using, however, a number of lines and filling the entire sheet with the delicate drawing. He observes every detail, no matter how small, and even traces the outlines of the nose and the nostrils, the fine hairs at the temples, and the play of lines around the eyes. The figures are transformed in the process, appearing more like ornamental structures than humans of flesh and blood.