Year: 1962

Author: Jean Tardieu (1903 - 1995)

Artist: Jean Bazaine (1904 - 2001)

Publisher: Maeght éditeur

Hollande, title page

Grey skies, drenching rain, wisps of fog, the wind lashing the waves along the coast, sea birds, a little boat, a village on the horizon: this is obviously a description of the Netherlands. Between 1958 and 1963 Jean Tardieu composed so-called 'textes-poèmes' (prose poems) for works by graphic artists he had befriended, such as Alberto Giacometti, Hans Hartung, Vietra da Silva, and Jean Bazaine. Hollande from 1962 was one of his most original compositions.

It originated in full-page drawing and aquarelles by Jean Bazaine. They are evocations of water, wind and waves along the Dutch coast, especially that of Zeeland, where Bazaine stayed a few times between 1956 and 1958. Shortly after World War II, he had a joint exhibition with his contemporaries in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. And later, in 1959, Bazaine had his first retrospective exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum and the Van Abbemuseum.

Parisian School

Artist Jean Bazaine, who was born in Paris, was one of the best-known representatives of the so-called École de Paris. This term is somewhat confusing. It was originally used for a large group of mostly non-French artists such as Chagall, Foujita, Modigliani, Soutine, Pascin, and other figurative artists who settled down in Paris between 1905 and 1925, especially in Montparnasse and Montmartre. For artists of Bazaine's generation, whose work was more abstract than figurative, the term 'Nouvelle École de Paris' was employed: the Second Parisian School. Currently, the term 'École de Paris' is used to refer to all the artists who worked in Paris both before and after World War II, for whom the city and its bohemian lifestyle became a defining influence.

Bazaine was schooled as a sculptor, but ultimately chose for painting. He is also known for his stained-glass windows, his mosaics and his theatre sets. After a figurative first period, he developed in a more abstract direction from the early 1940s, although he didn't find the term 'abstract' suitable. Bazaine's main source of inspiration was nature, especially the sea and the coast of Brittany and Normandy. He never pictured reality in a literal sense: no visible clouds, showers or trees. Yet these elements are easily identifiable in his work. He wanted to represent the secrets and unspeakable powers of nature in his works of art. Bazaine's emotional and lyrical work, inspired by nature, is therefore sometimes compared to that of Van Gogh.

The poet Tardieu

Before he opted for a career as an artist, Bazaine had studied philosophy, literature, and art history at the Sorbonne; he always kept his affinity for literature. From 1942 onwards he was part of the entourage of Georges Bataille, Paul Eluard and Raymond Queneau. He met Jean Tardieu in these circles. Tardieu (Daniel Tevoux's pseudonym) hailed from the Jura valley and studied philology in Paris. He started publishing volumes of poetry in the 1930s, and plays in the 1950s, such as Un mot pour autre (1951) and Les amants du métro (1952). These were one-act plays in the surrealist and absurdist tradition, with vivid, enigmatic dialogues that were also suitable for the café-theatres. From the war until his retirement, Tardieu occupied high-placed positions in radio and television. He continued to write poems, essays, memoirs and plays.

The specific combination of the sound of a word with an image or presentation formed an important cornerstone for Tardieu's art. 'All the windows open at once, and in a single leap I transcend all my limitations' is the first sentence in Hollande. This book is actually one long poem, divided into 'themes', some of which are made up of endlessly long, associative sentences, the meaning of which is felt rather than understood rationally. These themes are printed in roman type: each is commented on or further elaborated in italics. A few 'sound poems' have also been included. They deal purely with the musical sound of words strung together like a chain:

large largue lave

délie ébroue surgi salubre hume

arbore cataracte dérive horreur ravir ouragan

Publisher Maeght

The publisher of Hollande was Aimé Maeght, with whom Jean Bazaine had been in contact since the late 1940s: he exhibited his work regularly with this multi-faceted and famous gallery owner from 1949 onwards. Aimé Maeght (1906-1982) began his career as a lithographer for a printer. His reputation in the art world was the result of exhibitions he and his wife Marguérite Devaye (1909-1977) organised in their galleries, first in Cannes and later in Paris, where the swift rise of the Galerie Maeght in the Rue de Téhéran coincided with Aimé's development into an 'éditeur d'art'.

This second calling eventually overshadowed his first occupation. Maeght never made a secret of the fact that he preferred to be remembered as a publisher of modern art. The Éditions Maeght functioned from the very start as a 'trait d’union' between poetry and the graphic arts. Many artists became world-famous thanks to him: Georges Braque, Giacometti, Alexander Calder, Bram van Velde, Juan Miró and Marc Chagall. Their work was often produced based on friendship and trust, with each artist contributing his work in complete freedom. Hollande is another example of a fortunate collaboration between writer, graphic artist and publisher.

Bibliographical description

Description: Hollande / [aquarelles et dessins de] Jean Bazaine ; texte de Jean Tardieu. - Éd. orig. - Paris : Maeght éditeur, 1962. - [36] p. : ill. ; 31×38 cm

Printer: Aimé Maeght (aquarelles, drawings), Fequet et Baudier (text)

Edition: 100 copies

This copy: Number 25 of 100

Note: With original colour lithograph, signed by Jean Bazaine

Bibliography: Bénézit 1-907 ; Monod-10580

Shelfmark: KW Koopm E 42


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  • Lydia Harambourg, L' École de Paris, 1945-1965: Dictionnaire des peintres.Neuchâtel, Ides & Calendes, 1993
  • Jean-Louis Prat, L' univers d'Aimé et Marguerite Maeght. Saint-Paul, Fondation Maeght, 1982
  • C. Tacou, F. Dax-Boyer, Jean Tardieu. Paris, Éditions de l'Herne, 1991