Livre d’artiste, or Artist’s Book, were common at the turn of the 20th c. in France, and Henri Matisse produced more than a dozen illustrated books in his lifetime. Lucky folks in Atlanta will be able to see some of Matisse’s most successful book illustrations on display at the Museum of Art at Oglethorpe University from January 17 until May 9. This exhibition looks lovely, and I enjoy the convergence of the simple lines of the lithographs and the poetry.
Matisse especially loved poetry, and he produced dozens of drawings and etchings to illustrate the work of French poets Stephane Mallarme and Pierre Ronsard that are on view. Initially he created a 30 lithograph portfolio in 1941, but seven years later Matisse had transformed it into a 128 page volume entitled Florilege des Amours de Ronsard. Matisse’s drawings accompany the lyric poetry with flowers, nudes, dancers, and music.
I wasn’t familiar with this part of Matisse’s ouerve, and in looking for more information, found the artist had also illustrated James Joyce’s Ulysses and Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal!, which leads me down another path of exploration…