Roland Topor was an exceptional figure in French art and culture in the second half of the 20th century. Over the course of his life he worked in more creative fields than anybody else at the time. Topor was a tireless graphic artist and illustrator, as well as being the author of a wealth of novels, short stories and plays. On top of this he penned screenplays and appeared in films, directed plays, designed stage sets and costumes and, another important area of his activities, produced more than 100 posters.
What links these highly diverse ventures is Topor’s fascination with the absurdities and inadequacies of existence. He had a particular predilection for the unfathomable depths of human interaction, particularly – but not only – the gulfs that open up in the relationships between men and women. But individuals, with their fears, obsessions, passions and desires, were also one of his preferred subjects of study. Topor’s observations found their way into surreal scenes which alternate between humor and fright and allow for flashes of understanding.
Topor, who died back in 1997, would have turned 80 in 2018. On this occasion, Museum Folkwang is devoting an exhibition to him, featuring more than 200 exhibits in an introduction to his manifold oeuvre. As well as sketching out satirical pen-and-ink drawings for the newspapers and periodicals of the 1960s, Topor produced a rich inventory of illustrations, which the museum is showcasing on the basis of drawings and books dating from a period of more than three decades. Visitors will also be able to view important examples of his prints, plus a representative selection of posters and cartoons based on his own master copies. His links with the theater are illustrated by a number of original costumes from the production of Mozart’s Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) at Essen’s Aalto-Theater in 1990, which are now being shown together with the drawings on which the costumes were based for the first time.