The charcoal work in Venus in Furs by Michael Raaflaub is impossibly soft. The forms undulate as mossy silver, a gelatinous monochromatic mass folding into a shadowed void. On full view, your eyes fall into the cavernous drapes of the weighted ermine pelt deftly rendered by the artist.
Raaflaub’s illustration Venus in Furs is inspired by the fourth track on the 1967 Velvet Underground album Velvet Underground & Nico. Raaflaub’s interpretation eases into the sadomasochistic nature of songwriter Lou Reed’s lyrics and heightens the sensuality of the language.
shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather / whiplash girlchild in the dark / clubs and bells, your servant, don’t forsake him / strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart.
Raaflaub bypasses the obvious visual motif of Reed’s leather boots and instead enters the darkness and damp sexuality of the song through the image between the lover’s legs. In his poster, Raaflaub tears open the skull and the beating heart of Reed’s consorts and finds a composition so emotionally explicit and raw it speaks Reed’s lyrics, strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart.