AHOY THERE! : Three more “Artists of O”


Three would-be seafarers of differing artistic ability: Three art-takes on STORY OF O

Loic-DubigeonLoïc DUBIGEON (1934-2001) was born in Nantes to a family of shipowners. He became interested in painting from the age of fourteen. There followed frequent exhibitions, some in the company of André Lenormand, a painter from Nantes who enlightened him with his knowledge. From the Arts et Métiers in Paris, Dubigeon graduated as an architect. After training and an early career in architecture, he became an artist with a very varied repertoire. In 1963, he received the prize of the Biennale de Paris, award following which he exhibited in France but also abroad.

As a subject the sea was an inexhaustible source, but also still lifes, anonymous characters, derelict neighbourhoods, or beach cabins battered by time, were all of interest to Dubigeon. His work, including paintings, collages and drawings, is to be found in various museums around the world.

He also produced large murals, and designed Hermès scarves.



For his erotic work his style, mostly in pencil, is sophisticated realism, – hand drawn, in black on white. In his Cent dessins pour illustrer HISTOIRE D’O, Paris 1981, scenes of violence and physical acts seduce the viewer in numerous drawings inspired by Story of O. Further drawings were published in Paris in 1997 as Retour de Roissy. Dobigeon draws all the facets of such eroticism strongly tinged with sadomasochism: exhibitionism, flogging, masturbation, fellatio, cunnilingus, lesbianism, and sodomy…

“In the late 70s… a big Munich publisher… suggested I illustrate a luxury edition of the Story of O. I was very keen. I started work straight away, but the project was called off… When Alaine Robbe-Grillet saw my plates, he put me in touch with Roger Borderie. We made an agreement and Story of O was published with my drawings in September 1981. I was knocked out by the quality of the writing in Pauline Reage’s novel… I found making the drawings extremely captivating.” (Loic Dubigeon ‘La Scene’)
In tribute to the artist who had lived and painted in the two villages on the Normandy coast where he is remembered (Dubigeon lived in the area of Wargemont but rented a studio in Berneval), the library of Derchigny-Graincourt and a street of Berneval le Grand, were named after Loïc Dubigeon respectively in 2007 and 2006. 


David WILDE (Norman Shacklock 1918-74)

Manchester born David Wilde died 43 years ago, it is suggested, under mysterious circumstances. I cannot help but imagine that those who value his work today have embroidered upon the truth, as the artist may well have done himself.
Born Norman Shacklock but adopting the name Wilde as he felt it suited his temperament, David Wilde certainly wore two hats as a painter but did he really exhibit alongside Dali and Picasso in Paris as is continually repeated? I doubt it.


Wilde’s notoriety belongs to mainland Europe and not to his home country. It is for his erotic drawings he is remembered on the Continent. In the UK an attempt has been made to promote his idiosyncratic and semi-abstract attempts to configure the northern industrial landscape of LS Lowry as brightly coloured mishmashes of vorticism, futurism and surrealism.


His erotic work (which at best is extremely uneven in quality) managed to find a place in Erotic Masters of the 20th Century (pub. Germany 1984-5). When one considers the amount of poor quality drawing upon which Wilde eschewed self appraisal much of his erotica is sadly wanting in comparison to ‘masters’ working in a similar vein.

It is recorded he studied at the Manchester College of Art and was employed to draw the female anatomy for surgeons at the local hospitals and illustrated a medical textbook on birth. During the war he served as a draughtsman at the rank of Petty Officer and later became a freelance artist and designer “for large national companies”. He worked for 9 years as senior technical artist at Carlton Press. During this time, it is said, he became acquainted with Lowry and Peter Blake.


One of the ‘secret’ drawings of LS Lowry

On-line gallerist Jane Jones states: “David Wilde is quite an intriguing figure. He chose the pseudonym Wilde as it reflected his lifestyle. When he died, after a short illness, there was some mystery about the manner of his death, apparently because of his determination to expose various secret societies. For that reason, his work was hidden away for safe keeping. Now, with those days behind us, we can show his wonderful, colourful, expressive pieces once again.”

At its best Wilde’s art has a confidence and surety of line suited to the eroticized nude. His erotic drawings were often inspired by classic literary texts and for a private client he produced a portfolio of works inspired by Story of O.



Jack Purvis

Artist Jack Purvis worked from a studio in Kettering, Northamptonshire before retiring to Cromer on the north coast of the English county of Norfolk. He is self-taught moving from watercolours through to oils and occasionally graphite and charcoal. He writes, “Retired from gainful employment. Have been a dancer, salesman (failure), soldier, ship’s steward, personnel director, adviser and negotiator. My occupation now is painting subjects which are meaningful to me. The figure usually occupies a role in my works. I want people who view my work to see their own story. I don’t find painting easy or really relaxing. I work with a model, I read something, or I see something, which creates the urge to paint a story. The end product is ‘narrative’.”


I have certain books,” reports Jack, “novels, purchased over the years which I have read more than once. I also dip into them just to re-visit certain passages. These books include:‘The Crimson Petal and the White’ by Michel Faber, ‘Once’ by James Herbert, ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ by John O’Brien, ‘Tipping the Velvet’ by Sarah Waters, and my most recent ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ by Stieg Larsson.”

Now blogging through WordPress, Jack adds, “I have been painting for over twenty years. Now having retired to the UK coast I am now more of hobby painter but still manage to churn out some reasonable stuff. I also love words so also do bit of poeting, – really they are rhymes…”


Of his rendition of O masked as an owl, Jack tells me, “My model was a young lady who was with me for four years, As she held the pose I told her the story. She smiled.”





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