As a young boy, Georges Hugnet loved to cut newspapers into pieces and to rearrange the headlines, texts and pictures into his own 'journal'. He would make imaginative and comical collages, which he would later continue to do in his plays, poetry and (cinemato)graphical work. Hugnet found the four-sided border of a painting overly restrictive. Through the combination of various disciplines, his work features an incredible amount of diversity. It is this very richness of the imagination that he has always defended as a Dadaist and surrealist.
But Hugnet had the gift of letting his creativity flow within the mostly much smaller space of his photographs. In Huit jours à Trébaumec, which is supposedly a vacation diary by Hugnet for which he took 82 pictures, that creativity comes to full fruition: Hugnet made these photo collages at a later age, and was a talented 'peintre de collages'. The original photographs were taken during a trip Hugnet made along the coast of Brittany in 1947.
Because of Hugnet's collages, Huit jours à Trébaumec became an unusual vacation diary. It is a grotesque, humorous, racily illustrated imaginary travel story that takes place on the coast of Brittany. Two girls in underwear storm the castle steps, two others tumble down them naked, and a squirrel can be seen sitting on the buttock of a lady bending over. Hugnet's poetry has been characterised as sexual-symbolist, and can therefore be interpreted in many different ways. That could also apply to Huit jours à Trébaumec: the story and photo collages can be described as suggestive at the very least. The poses struck by the women, who are either partially or entirely naked, can therefore easily be imagined.
Guide Rose Micheline
The surprise one registers when reading the unusual text and seeing the strange collages of Huit jours à Trébaumec fits comfortably into the tradition of Dada and surrealism. Without even opening the book, this surprise is already caused by the edition's unusual size (40 centimetres tall and 19 centimetres wide). The book, which was published by Mercher, appeared as Guide Rose Micheline, a parody of the popular travel guide Guide Michelin Rouge. In this parody, it is not a little Michelin man, but a Michelin woman acting as a tour guide in the book.
Every set of facing pages features two photo collages on the right, accompanied by two captions on the left. Hugnet's handwriting has been reproduced here in phototype. The everyday holiday snapshots of tourist attractions have been embellished by Hugnet with magazine clippings, mainly of mannequins, women and models, but also of enormous mushrooms.
Trébaumec, paradise regained
Whoever goes looking for the town of Trébaumec will not be able to find it on any map. Trébaumec, which probably alludes to the popular French expression for 'very handsome boy' (très beau mec) is an imaginary creation of Hugnet's. He calls it 'the little lost town in Brittany, paradise regained'.
|Description:||Huit jours à Trébaumec : journal de vacances orné de 82 photographies prises par l'auteur en 1947 / Georges Hugnet ; – Paris: Mercher, 1969. - 41 pl. (100 p.). : ill. ; 40×19 cm|
|Printer:||Dominique Viglino (Bourg-la-Reine) (text)
Ateliers Coët (Paris) (heliogravure)
|This copy:||Number 53 of 100 on Rives BFK|
|Note:||Preceded by a manually set text by the editor set in De Roos type.|
|Note:||Signed by the author and the editor.|
|Shelf-mark:||Koopm K 326|
- Adam Biro, 'Georges Hugnet', in: Dictionnaire général du surréalisme et ses environs. Fribourg, Office du Livre, 1982, p. 210
- Jean-Paul Clébert, 'Georges Hugnet', in: Dictionnaire du Surréalisme. Paris, Seuil, 1996, p. 310-311
- Georges Hugnet, Pleins et déliés: Souvenirs et témoignages, 1926-1972. La Chapelle-sur-Loire, Authier, 1972
- James Phillips, Georges Hugnet (1906-1974): ''Le pantalon de la fauvett'': Du dictionnaire abrégé du Surréalisme: Étude et choix de textes. Paris, Lettres Modernes, 1991