Year: 1966

Author: Raymond Queneau (1903 - 1976)

Artist: Enrico Baj (1924 - 2003)

Publisher: Sergio Tosi e Paolo Bellasich stampatore

Cover of Meccano

Publisher Tosi & Bellasich (Milan) published an oblong book in 1966 with an enigmatic text by Rayond Queneau: Meccano ou l'analyse matricielle du langage. It deals with 'a mathematical analysis of language', and the accompanying tables had a humorous effect on artist Enrico Baj. He articulated a fitting response to this game about language construction.

For his illustrations, Baj used Meccano parts as an engraving plate, creating flowers and even a mat beater. The stamps that have been punched into the images- in reverse- can still be made out easily: 'Meccano', 'Made in England'. He had used this metal children's toy for prints before, in 1964 and 1965, and would continue using it until 1970, mainly for the creation of mask-like portraits of the likes of Empress Eugénie, the wife of Napoleon III. Baj also made use of other unusual materials like mirrors and handkerchiefs for his prints, which were usually satirical.

The copy of Queneau'sMeccano in the Koopman Collection is copy number 22 of the deluxe edition, with an extra series of large-size prints of the engravings and with anadditional serigraph on Japanese paper. The serigraph is an instructional drawing for the construction of 'The drunken boat', a reference to Rimbaud's poem 'Le bateau ivre'.

Bibliographical description

Description: Meccano, ou l'Analyse matricielle du langage / Raymond Queneau ; [17 gravures mécaniques d'] Enrico Baj. - [Milano] : Sergio Tosi e Paolo Bellasich stampatore, 1966. - [22] pl. : ill. ; 20×54 cm

Printer: Sergio Tosi en Paolo Bellasich (Milan)

Edition: 194 copies

This copy: Number 22 of 19 copies with an extra set of illustrations and one of 170 on C.M. Fabriano paper

Note: Signed by the author and artist, With five etchings on Rosaspina, signed by the artist and with an original serigraph on Imperial Japanese paper, signed by the artist

Bibliography: Bénézit 1-651 ; Castleman 225 ; Monod 9352

Shelfmark: KW Koopm E 51


  • Paul van Capelleveen, Sophie Ham, Jordy Joubij, Voices and visions. The Koopman Collection and the Art of the French Book. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands; Zwolle, Waanders, 2009
  • Paul van Capelleveen, Sophie Ham, Jordy Joubij, Voix et visions. La Collection Koopman et l'Art du Livre français. La Haye, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Bibliothèque nationale des Pays-Bas; Zwolle, Waanders, 2009
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