Un soupçon

Year: 1965

Author: Paul Éluard (1895 - 1952)

Artist: Michel Guino (1926 - 2013)

Publisher: Degré quarante et un.

Un soupçon, cover

In spite of his forty-five years of experience producing and publishing artists' books, this publication proved to be quite a challenge for Iliazd. Michel Guino, the illustrator, offered as an explanation that it took two years to create Un soupçon because the preparations required a great number of studies, drawings and various states of the etchings. Iliazd also controlled every aspect of the creative process, proved to be highly demanding, and refused to relinquish any of his ideas about the book's design.

Iliazd said the following about Un soupçon: 'I won't say that this will be the best-produced book I have ever made, but it will certainly be one of the most deliberate.'

Distinguished beauty

And yet, there are many reasons why this book still compares favourably to that other book produced by Ilizad: Poèmes et bois (1961). It is immediately evident to what Un soupçon owes its beauty: the old Japanese paper, the colourful dry-points by Guino, the parchment cover and the high-quality typographical work that was even carried through to the slipcase. These characteristic ingredients are typical for Iliazd's qualities as a publisher. Besides, as we have come to expect from him, as much attention has been devoted to the literary aspect of the book as its artistic content. Un soupçon contains only one (unpublished!) poem, out of the many hundreds of poems Éluard had written. This repetitive poem is expanded both literally and figuratively in the oversized edition: each line of verse is printed on a single page in order to emphasize the words even more strongly. The book's literary element – the text – is strengthened both in colour and layout by the fanciful use of typography.

A wild history

This book's distinguished beauty actually plays host to a wild history. Éluard promised to write a preface to Iliazd's poem Lidantiu faram (1923), but he retracted his promise after the so-called 'soirée du Coeur à Barbe' incident. Tristan Tzara was the evening's organiser and Iliazd produced the poster. Éluard did not want his name to appear beside Cocteau's on the programme, so he retracted his promise regarding the preface in a letter to Iliazd. But that is not all: on the infamous Dada evening of 6 July 1923, Iliazd refused to take sides in a conflict between Éluard and Tzara. Against Éluard's wishes, Tzara had André Breton removed by the police, and he sued Éluard for 30,000 francs; the second evening's cancellation was, according to Tzara, mostly Éluard's fault. Ultimately, Éluard offered Iliazd the poem * Un soupçon* in order to save their friendship.

Sculptures on paper

Iliazd turned out to be so impressed by the poem that he wanted to turn it into a beautiful edition after Éluard's death. The repeated use of the word 'légère' (which means light, airy and brave) made an especially strong impression, evoking various kinds of associations. Each repetition of the word 'légère' made him imagine air sculptures made of steel in order to visualize Éluard's poem. He also already had an artist in mind for the realization of this project: the young French sculptor Michel Guino, whom he had met in 1955 in Saint-Germain des Prés. Guino's colour etchings – fifteen in total – bear a striking resemblance to the air sculptures made of torn metal Iliazd had dreamed of. These 'sculptures on paper' are so spatial and warm-coloured that they seem almost three-dimensional, appearing to leap off the paper.

Bibliographical description

Description: Un soupçon: poème / de Paul Éluard ; ill. de pointes sèches par Guino ; mis en lumière par Iliazd. - Paris : Degré quarante et un, 1965. - [34] bl. : ill. ; 44 cm

Printer: Union

Edition: 41 and VI copies on Imperial Japan ('Japon impérial) paper and 23 on old Japan paper('vieux Japon')

This copy: Number 8 of 23 on vieux japon

Note: Signed by the artist and the publisher.

Bibliography: Bénézit 6-584, 6-806

Shelfmark: KW Koopm E 69


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