The term “Le Livre D’Artiste” means the book of the artist but in this case the artist is not just restricted to just the visual illustration of the book but also the text and publishing of the book. Two books that particularly stood out were A Toute Epreuve written by Paul Eluard and illustrated by Joan Miro and Cortege written by Pierre Lecuire with collages by Andre Lanskpy.
A Toute Epreuve’s illustrations are youthfully arranged colorful shapes, some show off their wood grain while others have a flat finish. The writing in the book is minimal compared to the page area devoted to the wood blocks. Some pages neglect to have text but those with text use the illustrations as a frame. The bright shapes help to loosen the text by having it showcased in chucks rather than a steady stream of prose. This allows for the illustrations to hold and dictate the location of the text which encourages the reader to focus on the location of the text within the image. This creates a new experience for the reader instead of knowing where to focus before turning the page, the reader has to navigate their eye through the image to focus on the text location. From my observations, this seems like an important distinction in the le livre d’artistes where the art is the focus while the text is its embellishment.
Cortege offers a very different and slightly segregated text with image approach compared to A Toute Epreuve. The bright and bold collages demand to be looked at instead of incorporating the text the two part of the book fight for the attention of the reader. The text is a large full font which stretches the wide pages to the point of barely leaving a margin. The illustration creates a vibrant visual counterpart to the blocked page of text but allows for little integration or connection between the two. Although, this is a le livre d’artiste it refuses to be seen as much of a collaboration as the former book but rather parallel entities. This suggest a less successful relationship between the artist, writer and the publisher because instead of creating a solid piece the artist and writer just seem like small embellishments to one another’s work.
To me A Toute Epreuve is the best example from Book Set 4 of what the le livre d’artiste movement was – having text by a writer become more than written art by transforming it into a piece of visual art with the addition of an artist’s illustration all collaborated by a publisher.