great books for art, photography and design lovers

► Art

Gaston Chaissac

Henry Claude Cousseau

Flammarion, 320 pages, €70.

The son of a shoemaker from Avallon (Yonne), Gaston Chaissac was disoriented and ill when he met the artist Otto Freundlich at the age of 27 in Paris. This encounter changed his fate. The young man began to draw and paint with passion, encouraged by his elder who greeted him as a “master”. Premonitory vision.

Until his death in 1964, at the age of 54, in the Vendée bocage where he lived in retirement, Gaston Chaissac never ceased to fascinate the world with his childlike creatures, painted in bright colors on cardboard, boards of wood, stumps, old lids. or a school playground. He also wrote stories, poems and thousands of letters, often embellished, to his friends Albert Gleizes, Jean Dubuffet, Raymond Queneau or André Bloc…

In greed, Henry-Claude Cousseau tells the story of this one-man band, accordionist in his spare time. He explores his literary production, full of nuggets of language, calligrams, digressions sometimes ironic, sometimes melancholy in the cruelty of the world. Served through full-page reproductions, the analysis of graphic and painted work brings to life all the beauty and inventiveness of Chaissac. Able to paint the imprint of a skin, like the bottom of an oyster shell, these “outcasts” spoke to his heart, this “Picasso in clogs” did not know how to transmute the gray of everyday life in a fire of colorful dreams.

Art and the letter, the arrival of words in pictorial space

Audrey Dauxais

Citadels and Mazenod, 192 pages, €59

Abundant treasure that this work is dedicated to the union of art and the letter, bound from Antiquity but will experience a wonderful expansion in the XXe century. Apollinaire’s calligrams, passing by it is not profit from Magritte to the wall statements of the artist Lawrence Weiner, the field explored is wide and does not forget graphic designers or street art.

The author also features unknown figures such as typographer Geoffroy Tory, designer Luigi Serafini and his Code. He explored original themes such as the imprint of the body on the letter, the artistic writings produced against the consumer society.

Lawrence, the genius of English portraiture

by Frederic Ogee

Cohen and Cohen, 420 p., 400 ill. 120 €

Proud officers – like the excellent, in every sense of the word, Duke of Wellington! – or women with complexions of lilies and roses; curly kids and stylish youngsters. Under the brush of the virtuoso Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), faces are so many windows open to the enigmas of the human soul that hide behind flattering forms.

In this impressively illustrated collection, Frédéric Alsoe explores the career and style of the British portrait painter, crowned with awards and royal commissions. Like his famous predecessors, from Hogarth to Reynolds and Gainsborough, Thomas Lawrence puts his brilliant and energetic touch at the service of his models, their sparkling eyes and cherry-colored lips sometimes believable their phlegm on the island…


► Picture

Counterculture in contemporary photography

by Michel Poivert

Textual, 304 p. 59 €

Christmas gifts 2022: great books for art, photography and design lovers

In an era of constant flow of images flooding our screens, artists have chosen to step aside, abandoning the immediate, often narcissistic practice that comes with practicing digital photography in the age of the ‘Internet. According to the historian of photography and professor of art history at the Sorbonne Michel Poivert, this movement, which can be dated to the 1990s, is like a counter-culture where poetry, creativity and activism mix. .

At the crossroads of human sciences and techniques, this heterodox movement brings together artists from different backgrounds, of different ages, with hybrid skills drawn from the history of photography, since its invention at the end of the 19th century.e century: pinhole, calotype, tintype, anthotype, daguerreotype, heliogravure, glass negative, silver film, Polaroid… until today, with for example, laptopograms (printing on silver paper by interacting with a computer screen or phone).

They reuse the vernacular or historical archive, whether they interfere with images by cutting them, coloring them, braiding them, embroidering them, whether they augment photography by creating photographic objects : impressions in clay, in plants, in wood, in stone, in porcelain, in glass… Let them place it in space in installations that make sense… Their creativity is abundant. Without claiming to be exhaustive, at least 180 works by 130 photographers are presented in this book, mostly artists working in France.

Through a great diversity of techniques and skills, they are united by a common point: they all question the details of photography through its very material. In view of the works presented, the author offers us a fascinating and sometimes complex reflection on the place and role of photography in our society and the effectiveness of images. He concluded with a few words: In the history of contemporary photography, possible worlds resemble a huge utopian breath – a liberation of the imagination.. »

Misr said

by Denis Dailleux

Beak in the air, 224p., 48€

Misr said is the romanized Arabic name that refers to Egypt, it is above all the name of the beautiful album that brings together a selection of one hundred photographs taken by Denis Dailleux in Cairo, Luxor, Alexandria, Saqqara, in the Nile delta… Between 1992 and 2017, he relentlessly photographed this country with the eyes of the heart, first in black and white then in color, always on film and in square format: everyday scenes still lifes and pictures, taken in the streets, cafes, workshops or on the banks of the Nile, in religious or family celebrations and in the privacy of apartments.

The book ends with verses by the Alexandrian poet Constantin Cavafis: I contemplated the beauty so that it filled my eyes. To this loving contemplation, this book invites us.

Henri Cartier-Bresson. photographer,

by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Delpire & co, 344 pages, €65.

A pioneer of street photography and reportage, Henri Cartier-Bresson knows how to express the world without exhausting its meaning, with simplicity of expression, an economy of means, a compositional balance that makes him a classic master of photography.

At the end of the 1970s, together with his publisher Robert Delpire, they produced a book covering his entire career, in 155 black and white images taken between 1926 and 1978, in the four corners of the world, immortalizing the main events of the XXe century.

This “eye of the century” reference work, for whom to photograph “it puts the head, the eye and the heart in the same line of sight”has just been reissued at the end of the year, a great idea for a gift to give to all hands.


► Designer

1,000 classic designs

Under the direction of Emilia Terragni

Phaidon, 592 pages, €79.95

Christmas gifts 2022: great books for art, photography and design lovers

In 1972, Peter Opsvik watched his two-year-old son at the table: sitting in a chair too big for him, his legs dangling and he couldn’t reach his plate. The Norwegian designer imagined Tripp Trapp, the first progressive wooden chair that adapts to the child’s age, supporting him while giving him great freedom of movement.

It is one of a thousand design classics detailed in this set of three yellow square-format volumes released in 2007 by Phaidon. The uncluttered layout invites you to leave – while drinking coffee from a Moka Express by Alfonso Bialetti (1933) – this book where you will undoubtedly keep many Post-its (invented in 1974 by Art Fry), which changes the way we look at everyday things.

Normandy, a French dream

by Adrien Motel

Place des Victoires, 240 p., €49

It was the largest ocean liner of its time, capable of transporting 2,000 passengers from Paris to New York in four days, traveling at nearly 30 knots (55 km/h). His life was short. Launched in 1935, it was blockaded in New York in September 1939 at the outbreak of World War II, then destroyed by fire in 1942.

Adrien Motel’s book tells the whole story by highlighting the layout of this floating palace, a showcase for the biggest names in Art Deco. One remains a dream in front of the enormous size of the dining room (86 meters long), the presence, in addition to the chapel, of a synagogue or the luxury of first-class apartments whose surface area, for four of them, reached 120 m2.

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