Things I love: Ronald Searle’s “Secret Sketchbook”

In 1969, artist and illustrator Ronald Searle published a book of sketches which he’d compiled, secretly, at the cabarets and strip clubs of the red light district in Hamburg, Germany.

Ostensibly there to draw the patrons, it’s hard to image that Searle’s motives for taking on the project were entirely in aid of his art, however, the drawings of the dancers and audience indicate a highly skilled artist who was able to draw from observation in a dark, busy and noisy setting. Searle’s ‘secret’ drawings seem to evoke the chaotic atmosphere of the cabaret, with the contours of the dancers’ bodies rendered in enticingly-fluid, voluptuously-curved lines. Cleaned up versions of the drawings, which featured in a 1968 edition of Holiday magazine, accompanied an article on 'Wicked Cities of the World'.


Ronald Searle Secret Sketchbook (1968) via Seven Camels.

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