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Arts et Metiers
manet-le-corbeau--arts-et-metiers-graphiquesF.l. Mary Arts Et Metiers GraphiquesAltman, Cover Design For Arts Et Meteirs Graphiques

Arts at Metiers Graphiques 1932




Historical significance

Arts at Metiers Graphiques 1932

No. 30

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24.5 cm x 31 cm | Free worldwide delivery (unframed). If you want to buy this framed please contact us.

This is an extremely rare and significant edition of a magazine that was published in runs of only 4000 per issue from 1927 to 1939. The magazine was founded by Charles Peignot, director of the French typefoundry Deberny et Peignot.

Peignot used the presses, metal type, and personal connections at his disposal to secure a place in graphic arts history with the publication of ‘Arts et Métiers Graphiques’. He wanted to cover “all the subjects near or far from printing, of its history, and its diverse contemporary manifestations.” In over ten years of publication Peignot’s wide editorial goal encompassed subjects ranging from illustration, the history of the book and printing techniques and the expanding disciplines of advertising design and modern art photography. The magazine also featured regular reviews of fine limited-edition books and reprints of classical literature excerpts in typographically innovative layouts. Each edition was printed on high-quality papers with frequent tipped-in plates and inserts. Until the Second World War forced the magazine to cease production, Arts et Métiers Graphiques was one of the highest standards for graphic arts magazines of its time.*

This issue of Arts et Metiers Graphiques contains a piece of original artwork by the celebrated Russian avant-garde artist Nathan Altman, specially commissioned by the magazine for this edition. Just this one page alone, removed from another copy of the same edition was recently sold in auction in Israel. Our edition contains all 68 original pages in very good condition.

Altman, Cover Design For Arts Et Meteirs GraphiquesNathan Altman, (1889-1970) was a notable Russian modernist and avant-garde painter. He is most famous for his portrait of Anna Akhmatova, which seems to capture the essential essence of the poet better than her own work. His major career was short. He moved from the USSR to France in 1928, introducing the Russian avant-garde to its western counterparts. He returned to the USSR in 1936 and somehow managed to avoid the terror and purges. Altman, born to a Jewish family, was very much a Jewish artist in that he associated and identified himself with Jewish circles, institutions, subjects and issues.

His design for the cover of Arts et Metiers Graphique is a seminal piece of avant-garde art. It employs the two favourite colours of the movement, red and black. It uses different typefaces for the number and letters. There is verticality and suspension. The space is divided in a decisive and final manner, having the objective solidity of an architectural drawing, a premonition of construction.

Altman Arts Et Metiers GraphiquesThere is a 4-page illustrated article about Altman, with pictures of his illustrations for Gogol’s works and even a sketch of Lenin. The article reads:

‘I won’t try to explain the art of Nathan Altman with its multiple layers and masterful realisations. Is it of any use discussing his ‘drawing’, of his ‘surfaces’, or of his ‘sense of values’? What art critic has ever managed to explain an artist by means of his conscious digressions that are as obscure for the uninitiated as they are denuded of sense for those of the profession?

I will therefore limit myself to presenting Nathan Altman, since he is not well known in France but is one of the best-established glories of contemporary Russian art. Those in the know had already picked him out from the crowd of youngsters that constituted the assault troops of the new artistic generation. During the pre-war years he painted several portraits – among which that of the poetess, Anna Akhmatova, became almost instantly famous – that are destined to reside in the history of Russian art as poignant witnesses of the Peterbourgoise society as it prepared to sink under the waves.

It is especially after the revolution that Nathan Altman found out how to show the richness of his art by not staying with easel painting but finding expression in sculpture, architecture, theatre sets and illustration. The revolution needed not only to propagate its ideas by social and political action but also to attract the masses by more direct suggestion on a spiritual level, finding immense support among the young artists. That’s when Nathan played a primordial role: reformer of the teaching of fine art, organiser of public exhibitions, sculptor and painter of the leading revolutionaries (his busts and portraits of Lenin enjoy great popularity in the USSR), designer of posters and book covers, set designer of several successful shows – Altman was the David of the Russian Revolution, although one might have given this title to others…

Altman has come out of the tumult of one of the greatest overthrows in history mature, more simple and deeper. His many works bear witness to that.

Once more, I refuse to explain them. The reproductions illustrating this note achieve that better than I can ever know. I will simply add that Nathan Altman appears to me to be among the first of the contemporary Russian artists to understand the essence itself of the spirit of the constructor that guides our era and that he knew how to express that as well in his big canvasses as in the smallest of his graphic works.’

J. E. Pouterman (translated from the French by AA)

Arts Et Metiers catalogue coverFollowing page 54 there is a cellophane lay-over on top of a metallic postcard on a red background. This is by the Loubok printing house, one of the leaders in its field. It is the design for the cover of a catalogue and an extraordinarily modernistic approach for 1932.

manet-le-corbeau--arts-et-metiers-graphiquesThis issue also contains an article about Edouard Manet and his drawings of a crow, for use in illustrating Edgar Allen Poe’s work of that name in an edition of 200.
F.l. Mary Arts Et Metiers GraphiquesThere is also a charming poster designed by F. L. Mary for the forthcoming Paris exhibition. It won second prize in the selection competition.

*source: Rochester Institute of Technology http://amgweb.rit.edu/introduction.htm (edit QED Rarities)

Additional Information

Dimensions 24.5 x 31 cm