May 68 of Children’s Books - A New Catalogue by Michèle Noret and Jacques Desse
Review by Friedrich C. Heller
Those collectors, who have discovered the beauty and incredible variety of contemporary artistic picture books , are aware of the important initiatives which were set in the 1960s in European children’s book art. In these years the contemporary art (as for example Surrealism and Pop art) „came into“ children’s book illustration, and since that time there is no doubt that certain picture books can be esteemed as „contemporary book-art“ - and their artists as book-artists (and not only as illustrators!)
A just published catalogue of two Parisian Book Galleries shows this in a tremendous exemplification (Chez les libraires associés and Librairie Michèle Noret).
In a sales exhibition they show the picture books of two famous publishers: Harlin Quist and François Ruy-Vidal, hence an American and a French. Both have initiated what the catalogue calles the „May 68 of children’s books“, in other words: the emancipation of children’s book-art from traditional manners and pedagogical regulations.
The list of the books published by these two men is long – most of the books are mentioned here (even with different editions in other countries) in a bibliographic catalogue with many illustrations. The books are precisely described in all details. We see the great creativity of various artists working for the publishers, and it is like looking through art-history, especially graphic art and graphic design in the second half of the 20th century. Consequently also the source literature (used for this bibliography) is mentioned (and partly offered for sale) and often corrected. The catalogue also offers a number of fascinating original designs of some of the artists, so Alain Gauthier, Mila Boutan, Nicole Claveloux and others. In addition to this great offer the catalogue lists up the authors and the artists in an index with many biographical facts and hints. Collectors will welcome this thankfully.
For them – and for all those who want to learn about contemporary book-art history - this catalogue is a „must“! Thanks to Michèle Noret and to Jacques Desse, because it isn’t self-evident that antiquarians offer their books in such a wonderful bibliography!