Matisse: Book Designer

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We have just discovered the beautiful 1952 book Images a la Sauvette in our historical Mackintosh Library. The book reproduces in the highest quality 126 of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s renowned photographs. It is something of a collector’s item: in their 2004 history of the photobook, Martin Parr and Gerry Badger note that “it has overriding unifying factors that elevate it into a great photobook. The first is the concept of the ‘decisive moment’ itself, which defines the elegance of Cartier-Bresson’s imagery: the instant when all the elements in the picture-frame come together to make the perfect image… [It] is one of the greatest of all photobooks.”

Another aspect of interest is that the binding is designed by Henri Matisse, and displays his famous paper cut-out technique. Here the technique is used to produce plant, geometric and spiral forms in variations of black, green and blue. The book’s title and subtitles are picked out in Matisse’s own handwriting on the front cover.

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