This post is about two small, beautiful publications that come packed with great significance. These are two books by the publishing collective Taller Leñateros (translated as ‘Firewood Collectors/Peddlers Worskhop’) in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Taller Leñateros publishes the first books produced, written, illustrated, printed and bound entirely by Mayan people in 400 years1, and was founded in 1975 by Mexican poet Ambar Past.
Chiapas, as the perifery of the perifery, is known to the world because of the EZLN (the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, or Zapatista Army of National Liberation) who democratically control a substantial part of this Southern Mexican territory in the name of local indigenous rights. The geographical position of Taller Leñateros in this rural area is of high importance in this context2, considering as well that most of the publishing industry of the country is located in Mexico City, where literary production is mandated by big national publishers, some of them linked to mainstream publishing multinationals.
On the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris, we would like to talk about Images de notre délivrance (Liberation.a.7), published in December 1944 by the Editions du Pavois (the publisher in 1946 of L’Univers concentrationnaire by David Rousset, which was awarded the Renaudot prize, Liberation.c.119 and Liberation.c.918). The book, clearly of a bibliophile nature, is presented by the editor as a documentary, the result of an accidental collaboration between a writer, Georges Duhamel (1884-1966), and an artist, Claude Lepape (1913-1994), both reacting to a unique historical event:
Ce livre est un document. Il est né de la rencontre fortuite de deux sensibilités. L’Ecrivain et le Dessinateur ne se sont pas concertés, mais leurs réactions, si diverses et en même temps si proches, constituent l’un des documents les plus émouvants sur les glorieuses journées de la libération.
Bakaloff Amy, Sombre est noir, orné d’une gravure à l’eau-forte et de deux dessins de Domínguez. Paris, 1945. Liberation.b.356
One of the last books acquired through the Liberation collection is Amy Bakaloff’s Sombre est noir (Liberation.b.356), a collection of French poetry written during the Second World War and dedicated to Paul Éluard and Georges Hugnet, a writer and publisher engaged in the Résistance. It includes an engraving signed by Óscar Domínguez and two drawings. It is a rare work, one of 232 copies, some numbered on Annam paper, some on blue vellum, and some on vélin des Marais. Continue reading →
In an earlier blog post, I talked about the artist books donation of the Diane française publisher “Musée de Poche” collection to Cambridge University Library. One of the works I discovered in this series is that of Remo Giatti, an artist form Northern Italy who uses a variety of techniques (engraving, lithography, drawing and collage…), and whose prints often include elements in “relief”. His work featured on the cover of the catalogue (F201.a.4.1), accompanied in the numbered Cambridge copy by an original print. Giatti also contributed to four “Musée de Poche” books (three of them are double volumes containing up to eight prints).
Le plus beau poème du monde est un poème d’amour (2014) by the Italian poet Arturo Schwarz, translated into French by Raphael Monticelli and inspired by Lucretius is a tribute to the beloved woman and her body through the elements. In this context, Giatti’s first and last prints evoke the stains of biological elements enlarged through a microscope, and the cracks forming on an arid soil in shades of grey. In the central double print, a grey shape with lines, strokes and cracks, pops up dramatically towards the viewer. It is set on top of another print which acts as a colourful brown and green background for the other one, reusing patterns of bubbles, stains and lines, and creating a strange effect of alignment and perspective from the top to the bottom print. Continue reading →
Cambridge University Library has just acquired a collection of about 230 French illustrated poetry books ranging from 1841 to 1970 and beyond. They were collected by Martin Stone, an English guitarist as well as rare books dealer and collector who passed away in 2016. The collection consists mainly of outstanding first editions, many of which printed on special paper and containing signatures and dedications by and to prominent figures of the Parisian art world (Cocteau, Apollinaire, Marie Laurencin etc.). It is very strong from a literary perspective, with major or lesser-known French and Belgian poets, ranging from Symbolist and Decadent writing to the 20th century Modernist avant-gardes, which reverberated across the globe.
Poèmes de Jean Lorrain. Paris: Léon Grus, 1896. Sheet music. Composer Gabriel Pierné. Cover by Lucien Métivet.