Jean Claude Renard. Incantations des transparences
Acquired from the binders
Size: 26 x 35 cm.
Shelfmark: 1783 A 20
Traditional bookbinding is often - incorrectly - seen as an archaic craft that has fallen into disuse. However, the binding discussed here, made by Edgard Claes and Alain Taral, proves that hand-made bindings can hold their own among the modern applied arts.
Both binders have progressed through their own individual developments. The Belgian Edgar Claes, a brother in the Order of the Holy Cross, has been working with a type of plastic called polycarbonate since 1990. Trained as a classic bookbinder, he eventually sought new paths and forms of expression. Initially, he decorated his leather bindings with automotive paint using airbrush techniques. The choice of polycarbonate made it possible to use computer-controlled lathe machines to execute the most ingenious designs. After a great deal of experimentation, he found that this material also required the development of new binding techniques. Using the instruments of a silversmith, Claes created techniques for making the plastic suitable for use as a binding material.
The Frenchman Alain Taral started out as a furniture maker and marqueteur.
When a collector asked him to decorate a book cover with wood inlays, he realised the possibilities that wood offered as a material for book bindings. In the past, wood had been used as a core plate that was covered with leather or parchment, which was then embossed with decorative ornaments. Taral, who was very familiar with the effects of wood grain and structures, used different types of wood, which he sanded, coloured and glued to produce refined decorations.
In producing this binding, the two artists literally divided the work down the middle. In the French bookbinding tradition, the work is generally divided between a designer and a craftsman, but a co-operative effort such as this is very unusual.
Claes contributed the dynamic design and produced the back cover, while Alain Taral produced the spine, the front cover and the box. The harmonious whole is the result of the combination of modern concepts and traditional craftsmanship. (RT)