The Original French Version HERE - The English version has been translated by Jon-Michael McLean
From the 19th Issue of Hors Cadre[s] : Observatoire de l'album et des littératures graphiques
Nowadays, a rectangular format, an ordinary glossy covering or a conventional coated paper in four-colour process printing can seem banal, even bordering bad taste. One could almost forget that, for a long time, interest in the fabrication of printed books was limited to narrow circles of bibliophiles. Increased competition due to the abundance of titles, the threat of dematerilzation brought on by digital technology, an attempt to prevent the loss of avid readers, or simple emulation of lovers of books and paper, whatever the reasons may be, the facts are there and over these past years we have borne witness to the abundant finery deployed by print publishers : the multiplication of cut-outs and imprints, the spread of selective varnish, unrestrained use of Panton neon colours, added to four-colour printing, or even printing in direct finishes... It is also novels (those of Monsieur Toussaint Louverture in particular) that decorate themselves with clever materials and textures and call upon the talent of creators of children's picture books or comic books for the realisation of their covers. The soft touch of a bounced embossing, the delight of a cover in offset paper or that of (though more debatable because excessively sensual) of a «soft-touch » protective coating ; all these surely summon a range of senses suitable for strongly increasing the desire to read, the pleasure of picking up a book. If the link to paper books finds itself thus strengthened, the quest at all cost for « effects » nevertheless leaves us to fear a pricey development of techniques, a flooding of methods that take away from the content, or, more worrisome, a risk of misinterpretation or betrayal of the initial artistic project, in the context of an era and of an industry that seem to meet with difficulty in renouncing the « always more ».
By interesting us in innovative creations making use of these techniques, we discover the potential motivations of these choices of fabrication, which of course go beyond the question of a book's power of seduction lying in its ornemented borders. The approach of the Italian artist Bruno Munari finds itself taken up again and again, both as a model of inexhaustible inspiration for young creators and even moreso as the reminder of the essential questioning of books as objects, of their possibilities, but also of their promises.
By fully integrating these purely aesthetic effects into their creations, indeed by placing them at the very source of their reflection, numerous are those, among these artists, that show the ways, which are successful and most importantly extremely inventive, of a complete participation of the material in the narrative and expressive dimension of books.
Considering the material, as these creators do, comes down to thinking of books as a whole, all-encompassing and coherent, to going beyond a simple appreciation of their content or the restrained consideration of verbal and iconic messages. In doing so, they introduce graphic litterature into an artistic approach that integrates more and more the third dimension, by calling for a reception that must familiarize itself with the specialized terms of this constantly flourishing field.