Lunes en papier
Year:
1921
Author:
André Malraux
1901 to 1976
Artist:
Fernand Léger
1881 to 1955
Publisher:
Éditions de la Galerie Simon

André Malraux decided that he wanted to become a writer at an early age. When he was eighteen, he offered his services to book dealer and publisher René-Louis Doyon. In January 1920 he published 'Des origines de la poésie cubiste' in La connaissance, a magazine for literature and philosophy founded by Doyon. It was a devastating article in which he described Symbolism as a 'mouvement littéraire sénile' (a senile literary movement) with all the aplomb of a highly experienced critic, and in which he wrote a glowing homage to the work of Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy and Blaise Cendrars.

Cover with wood engraving by Fernand Léger
Cover with wood engraving by Fernand Léger

Cover with wood engraving by Fernand Léger

Title page
Title page

Title page

Wood engraving by Fernand Léger (p. [11])
Wood engraving by Fernand Léger (p. [11])

Wood engraving by Fernand Léger (p. [11])

Wood engraving by Fernand Léger (p. [21])
Wood engraving by Fernand Léger (p. [21])

Wood engraving by Fernand Léger (p. [21])

Page 32 with wood engraving by Fernand Léger
Page 32 with wood engraving by Fernand Léger

Page 32 with wood engraving by Fernand Léger

Colophon, signed by André Malraux and Fernand Léger
Colophon, signed by André Malraux and Fernand Léger

Colophon, signed by André Malraux and Fernand Léger

The extent to which Malraux was taken seriously as an author is proved by the fact that his first book Lunes en papier ('Paper moons') was published by the famous art dealer and publisher Kahnweiler, the actual owner of gallery and publisher Simon.

Through Max Jacob's connections, Malraux had grown familiar with the world of the visual arts. He grew acquainted with Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884-1979), who was born in Mannheim and opened a small gallery in Paris. Kahnweiler immediately recognised the importance of the work of Picasso, Braque, Gris and Léger, Cubist artists -'des jeunes farceurs' (young pranksters), as the press tended to call them. Their work was generally considered terribly ugly and unbearably pretentious. But thanks to Kahnweiler, they were still able to sell their work. He defended them from the gutter press, and so Cubism was able to establish a foothold in the art world.

Kahnweiler as a publisher

Besides being an art dealer, Kahnweiler was also a publisher. Between 1909 and 1914 he published a small number of books by Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob, illustrated by André Derain and Picasso. In his opinion, these authors - who were still unknown at the time - accomplished with words what the Cubist painters did with paint. Kahnweiler's activities were interrupted by World War I, a period he was forced to spend in Switzerland. His possessions were seized because he was a German citizen. But he still succeeded in starting over after the war under the name of his good friend André Simon. Between 1920 and 1940, the Éditions de la Galerie Simon, on Rue d'Astorg 29bis, was to publish a large number of fine editions by authors such as Max Jacob, Raymond Radiguet, Pierre Reverdy, Antonin Artaud, and many others. These were of course illustrated by the famous artists in Kahnweiler's gallery.