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  • Writer's pictureEditions d'art FMA

The art squares of FMA editions

Since 2008, Françoise Maréchal-Alligand has published around thirty artists’ books that she wanted to be rare and precious, sometimes even ambitious for certain collective projects. This demanding conductor is also concerned about the general public. She likes to show the creative process and make the voices of poets heard. An intimate beauty that is shared and takes on relief.

Françoise Maréchal-Alligand founder of the Editions d'art FMA

She published corporate magazines with millions of copies. Today, Françoise Maréchal-Alligand publishes nuggets in very limited series. Thirty to forty-five numbered books most often. Sometimes less. “By specializing in editorial, I took a liking to this mode of communication. I needed a breather in my professional life. This activity brought me a new openness, closer to my affinities. “Her personal life was already nourished by artistic references, “if only as the wife of Bernard Alligand”. Painter and engraver, this husband familiar with the world of bibliophiles suggests that he explore the sector of artists' books. “From the start, I wanted to work on rarity and preciousness. That was in 2008. The catalog of FMA art editions now has around twenty titles, including several box sets: “I would never have imagined such a deployment! “, she confides in their shared studio, a marvel of Parisian architecture, a few steps from Place de Clichy.

With Michel Butor

The restoration of the female body occupies a special place in the corpus. Privilege of the first times. Michel Butor revisits the myth of Isis and Osiris by reversing the roles between the god and the goddess: “Since then he has traveled through Egypt / not only the Delta / and the Valley, all their fields / which slowly emerge / in the 'lowering of the Nile / the islands of their villages / reflected by its mirror'. The fundamentals are laid. An unpublished poem by a living author. And then original works by an artist in counterpoint: “I chose Bernard, it seemed obvious to me. We are very close and talk a lot. The collaboration with the artists remains the most delicate part. I needed a certain flexibility, flexibility and complicity to start. The bluish streaks of the watercolor are accompanied by grainy clouds formed by the stamping of sand picked up in the Libyan desert. The stanzas form regular blocks on the square pages: “This intimate format often returned later. It allows the reader to take ownership of the book. I find that it lends itself well to illustration and offers real freedom in layout. » Cloth binding, simple and classic, to let the heart of the book express itself. Traditional lead letterpress. Françoise holds her line. She won't leave her again.

Artist's book LA RESTAURATION DU CORPS FEMININ by Michel Butor and Bernard Alligand. Editions d'art FMA

Artist's book LE RING by Tita Reut and Bernard Alligand. Editions d'art FMA

Erotic poems

Very quickly, the desire to launch a collection la tenaille. The neophyte publisher launches Carré d'Éros with Le ring by Tita Reut. A woman invites her partner to carnal pleasure. Text and images in red and black are raw. They move on the page to the rhythm of the embraces. The sinuous lines outline very clean bodies. In 2010, Gaston Puel in turn composed an erotic poem: “Gaston offered me a superb text which is a declaration of love to his wife suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Over the course of the edition, he changed a few words, he developed his poetry. It was a great adventure, full of emotion. The book was acquired by the Jacques Doucet library with its manuscript and the correspondence that surrounds it: "Your shoulders of burnt shadow / Still bewitch me and invite me". Françoise will ask Régine Detambel for a similar text: “She got caught up in the game. It didn’t surprise me that much because she has a very strong relationship with the skin and sensuality. Ravigote appeared in 2012, as Ritual of the Senses by Sigurður Pálsson. A volume with cold tones like the Icelandic coasts where nature awakens emotions: “For the moment, I have stopped the collection to give more freedom to the books. »

Book of bibliophile RUINES D'AVENIR by Michel Butor and 7 artists. Editions d'art FMA

Future Ruins

2013 marks a turning point. Françoise feels ripe to entrust certain illustrations to others

re artists than Bernard Alligand. "When everyone is ready, you have to start," insists the husband. No half measures. This decision materialized from the outset in a large-scale project which combined seven signatures, one per volume, to constitute the Ruines d'avenir box set: "Michel Butor's long poem is inspired by the tapestry of the Apocalypse of Angers, huge medieval tapestry in which one can walk. It bounces back on the symbolism of the number seven, which constantly recurs in the text of Saint John, to offer seven songs, seven stanzas, seven verses and seven syllables! Each volume bears the name of a Church: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea. Like the second-century author, Michel Butor addressed a letter to him, revisiting the apostle's visions in contemporary language: "Dear friends, I am writing to you / from the island of Patmos / to give you courage / and for you to reconcile / it's the crisis of the church / everything is splitting on all sides / but we have to hold on”. Several layers are superimposed: the original biblical matrix, the images of the tapestry of Jean de Bruges, the mathematical verses of Michel Butor and the interventions of the artists. Bernard Alligand embosses and cuts the paper to bring out proud horsemen. All in transparency, Patricia Erbelding sketches a galloping red horse. Bertrand Dorny takes up the textile material by sticking Japanese fabrics. The pastellist Anne Walker adopts the spirit of illuminations with iridescent fillets and cartouches. Maxime Godard summons prehistoric animals to create a fantastic bestiary. Gérard Eppelé is interested in angels that he draws with a different technique for each copy: watercolor, colored ink, lead pencil, etc. Finally, Michel Butor is also entitled to his white pages which he covers alternately with red or blue to take up the rhythm of the tapestry.

Artist's book AUX JARDINS DE LA LICORNE by Michel Butor and Bernard Alligand. Editions d'art FMA

Artist's book ELLE EST LE MONDE by Régine Detambel and Patricia Erbelding. Editions d'art FMA

Masculine, feminine

This experience will give rise to an exhibition at the Château d'Angers, taken up at the Louis Nucera library in Nice and then at the Ceccano library in Avignon: "We had asked the artists to keep their essays, their models, all the works preparatory. “The genesis of the work still interests Françoise Maréchal-Alligand who likes to share this dynamic with the public: “2000 catalogs have been published to tell the story of the project (Ed. Actes-Sud and the City of Angers). This gives another dimension to the twelve boxes. The illustrated brochure contains testimonials from various contributors, including a long commentary by Michel Butor. On the strength of this collective adventure, the Alligands took a liking to medieval tapestry: “We looked for another emblematic tapestry, but this time profane. » The Lady with the Unicorn from the Cluny Museum stands out: « It is a hymn to femininity that touches on universal realities. So I entrusted the first volume to a male duo, Michel Butor and Bernard Alligand who made Aux jardins de la unicorn, and the second to a female duo, Régine Detambel and Patricia Erbelding who imagined She is the world. The box set released in 2015 presents these two books opposite each other. Black and white. White and Black. The fabulous animal offers its familiar silhouette in a game of positives and negatives. The covers respond to each other in an astonishing way, without consultation because the projects were carried out independently, under the leadership of Françoise, guardian of the secret. Inside, complementary universes arise: “The men adopt a descriptive bias with photographs printed on papers of different textures. These pages are ennobled using a wide variety of techniques that create depth and mystery: drawing, painting, tracing, resin, cutting, stamping… “The female gaze is more allegorical. He revisits mille-fleurs in bright, fresh colors in watercolor washes. Wax applications bring effects of transparency which are revealed in the light when unfolding the book. Recently, this contrasting duo was presented at the Cluny Museum as part of the “Magic Unicorns” exhibition. The tapestry has not said its last word. Françoise is thinking about a project that she will not reveal.

Françoise Maréchal-Alligand, founder of Editions d'art FMA

National Printing Office

“My job as a publisher consists in offering artistic and literary works capable of enchanting people sensitive to this type of work. “In general, it is she who solicits the poets to ask them for an exclusive work: “Sometimes I read a text and do not adhere to it right away. But I can't work on a poem that doesn't touch me. I like the fluidity of the language, the richness of expression and vocabulary, the intelligence, the humor, the accuracy. Françoise read Baudelaire, Reverdy, Éluard. Happy in concerts and even more so in museums, this inveterate city-dweller confides that poetry remains the art that “transports” her. The texts she retains are composed in the old fashioned way in the Art Book and Printmaking Workshop of the National Printing Office: “I have been there since the beginning, in particular to take the opposite view of digital. I want you to feel the presence of lead characters in the paper. The establishment's reserves contain treasures that she gladly uses. Bernard Alligand thus reworked a bee from Napoleon III for Hexagones in disarray by Michel Butor (2012), the little beasts gone mad in the world that threatens them start talking on mulberry leaf paper . For Rivage de Pount, where Salah Stétié evokes the forgotten country in which the Egyptians went to stock up on rare foodstuffs (2012), a different hieroglyph punctuates each stanza. “The National Printing Office translator even created the title. It's a great place with a very caring team. In the colophon, Françoise often gives explanations on the typeface chosen, such as Grandjean or Marcelin Legrand, which she finds very elegant. And to quote the engraver-inventor Louis Gautier in 1950: “I wanted to make for our time a typeface to which I wanted to give qualities of readability, simplicity and clarity. »

Artist's book VOYAGE A VIC by Robert Marteau and Julius Baltazar. Editions d'art FMA

The art of layout

She is responsible for the layout: “I prefer not to have any intermediary with the authors. This creates an additional bond that allows me to deepen the relationship and immerse myself in their universe. I choose the format of the book and the cadence of the poem according to its internal rhythm. They give me their opinion. Then, I send the model to the Atelier du livre d’art and I attend the BAT. » When the works are shaped, they are sent to the artists who intervene directly on the white pages, between 250 and 300 grams, of the BFK Rives or the Moulin du Gué depending on the case: « Bernard works the material with embossing or bonding. So I got into this habit. Artists appreciate the thickness of the support. It's inviting! Here is the Toros box set (2017) which presents the chronicles of Robert Marteau around bullfighting in three volumes illustrated by the curves of Bernard Alligand, the scenographic movements of Julius Baltazar and the sanguines of Gérard Eppelé, the sequel to the hectic Wounded Torero (2010) by the same author, based on the accident of José Tomàs in the bullring of Aguascalientes: "The discreet angel who stands on the balcony / And watches over you was briefly distracted. Françoise sometimes calls the title "logo", a reminiscence of her advertising past. It is treated like an image: “I try to translate meaning into a sign with a certain requirement. It takes rigor. No routine though. La pomme et ses pips(2016) followed a reverse process: “Bernard sent the model to Michel Butor, proposing photographs of New York. The surfaced paper has been stencilled over several layers to obtain a very velvety black, as in Carré des métérores (2013). Michel, who has become a friend, created the text accordingly. It was he who had the idea of alternating blue verses and red verses, giving the text quite a rhythm. »

Kenneth White's Splendid Reading of Prose LE GRAND RASSEMBLEMENT A GEOGRAPHIC HARBOR. Editions d'art FMA

Share readings and browsing

While she cultivates exclusivity, aimed at a clientele of collectors and French-speaking public libraries, Françoise seeks to promote her books more widely: “It may seem paradoxical, but I want everyone to have access to them. Libraries and media libraries are very fond of mediation tools. They create bridges between the arts, as in Caen or Saint-Malo, sometimes including on the shelves. “After having definitively left her position as an employee in 2017, the editor therefore trained in video. A YouTube channel now offers leafing through books as well as readings by the poets themselves: “The text takes on the relief of sound and musicality. Kenneth White gives very theatrical readings that are listened to with delight. His writings are full of humor and intelligence. In The Last Days of Audubon (2015), he tells how a scholar in search of birds ends up disappearing in the fog of the Far North while making sketches. The Great Gathering at Geographic Harbor(2017) imagines a conference of scientists with high-sounding titles talking about the future of the planet: “Speech gets lost in convolutions. During this time, nature expresses itself and the glacier melts inexorably. The end ends in onomatopoeia. " The faithful Michel Butor speaks in a very slow and calm way: " His mother was deaf, he is used to having his lips read. Régine Detambel is convinced of the benefits of reading aloud, which almost becomes therapy. The “little” newcomer, Bernard Noël, deliberately adopts a very neutral tone, without emphasis, while his texts manifest a certain lyricism, such as Trajet de l’oiseau (2018). “I really like going to my authors for filming. We always leave very happy. For her, meetings remain an essential driving force. She therefore continues to weave human relationships, between poets and artists, to give birth to new works.

Priscille de Lassus

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