The little town of Saint-Paul de Vence on the Côte d’Azur is mostly famous for the fact that artists such as Picasso, Chagall and Matisse lived there temporarily and came together in the tavern La Colombe d'Or ('The golden dove'), where they paid their bills with their own work. Saint-Paul de Vence also served as a home base for Marguerite and Aimé Maeght, the founders of a publishing business that produced many artist's books, and a gallery where work by the great masters of the twentieth century were exhibited. In 1964 they also founded a society in Saint-Paul, and the couple's art collection can now be admired in the museum that has been established there. The collection is known as one of the most extensive ones in all of France, and it contains work by artists such as Giacometti, Miró, Léger, and Kandinsky.
Wanting to 'make sight sing'
But lesser gods also reposed in this town, working on various kinds of art projects. One of them was André Verdet (born in Nice). At first he stood in the shadow of the artists he had befriended and about whom he had published works. One of his best friends was songwriter and poet Jacques Prévert (1900-1977), with whom he collaborated regularly. Over the course of the 1940s, he grew active as a poet himself, and following Picasso's advice, he applied himself to the visual arts in the 1950s, working with great regularity on objects in which images are combined with each other. He wanted to 'make sight sing'.
For the collection of poetry Femme multiple, Verde - who wrote the poems - worked with the Italian-born artist Manfredo Borsi, who produced copper engravings for it. Both artists lived in Saint-Paul de Vence since 1948, and had become good friends - witness the book's preface. Manfredo Borsi mainly worked with ceramics, but had previously worked as a book illustrator, specifically for Ombre lumière by Germain Beauclair. Verdet produced remarkable books together with six other artists.
Femme multiple is printed in folio size on Rives paper. The poems, set in a large typeface and printed in black and green, alternated with Borsi’s illustrations. The poems generally don't consist of more than a few stanzas. The engravings are mostly portraits of women, betraying Borsi's fascination with Etruscan art. The Koopman Collection contains copy number 47 - the entire edition was only made up of 58 copies. The work was published anonymously 'aux dépens d'un groupe d'amateurs', which was quite common for artists' books. It is impossible to trace the identities of these book lovers today. Borsi and Verdet's project was no exception in the stimulating environment of Saint-Paul de Vence.
|Description:||Femme multiple / André Verdet ; cuivres orig. de Manfredo Borsi. - Saint-Paul de Vence : Aux dépens d'un groupe d'amateurs, 1965. -  p. : ill. ; 53 cm|
|Printer:||Maraval (Saint-Pons) (text)
Henry Baviera (etchings)
|This copy:||Number 47 of 58|
|Note:||With an original copperplate for one of the etchings|
|Bibliography:||Bénézit 2-581 ; 14-131 ; Monod-11010|
|Shelfnumber:||Koopm E 41|
- Pierre Restany, 'Le secret d'André Verdet faire chanter le regard', in: L'oeil, (1994) 461 (mai), p. 81-88
- L'univers d’Aimé et Marguerite Maeght. Saint Paul, Fondation Maeght, 1982