Mortimer Rare Book Room

Artists Books and Bindings

In France in the mid-20th century, a tradition developed which paired visual artist not known for book illustration with texts to produce lavishly printed livres d’artistes. The Smith College Museum of Art and the Mortimer Rare Book Room both have substantial collections of these books, as well as more modern ones produced elsewhere in Europe and the United States. Picasso illustrated Chronique des Temps Héroïques by Max Jacob, whose portrait is shown here. The book was printed in an edition of only 150 copies, all signed by Picasso. In general livres d’artistes were issued unbound, but frequently owners commissioned deluxe bindings befitting to the notable artists. This binding, referencing Picasso’s cubism, was done by P.L. Martin in 1959. Pierre-Lucien Martin (1913-1985), emerged as a design binder in France following World War II. This book is part of a collection of approximately sixty-five artists books recently donated to the Mortimer Rare Book Room by alumna Ryda Hecht Levi. Mrs. Levi also collected modern large-scale sculptures, many of which are in the Baltimore Museum of Art outdoor sculpture garden.

Max Jacob. Chronique des Temps Héroïques. Paris: Louis Broder, 1956.


jacobs-portrait-web.jpg (Jacob is correct; I misnamed the image file)

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