Opium Series

In 1929, Jean Cocteau, the artist and filmmaker, entered a clinic to rid himself of an addiction to Opium. As part of his treatment he had done a series of self portraits. Cocteaus’ drawings were about the agonies of withdrawal from drugs. Coyer felt that the works could serve as metaphors for today’s artistic withdrawal from the tenets of modernism after “modernism became a habit.” The figures depicted somewhat resemble Leger’s tubular figures, but the tubes from which Cocteau had constructed them were opium pipes. The strange figures were not to find themselves rendered in oil and placed in an unfamiliar setting, as distinct from Cocteau’s unadorned backgrounds. As backgrounds for the figures, Coyer preferred a boxed-in claustrophobic space. Like Baudelair, who wrote of obsession, disgust, and despair in impeccable alexandrines, Coyer takes the cold-turkey shakes of Cocteau and puts them into an academic, almost classical setting.