Toute fleur n'est que de la nuit
Year:
2001
Author:
Philippe Jaccottet
1925
Artist:
Denis Brihat
1928
Publisher:
Fata Morgana

The name of publisher Fata Morgana refers explicitly to three different things: to mirages; to the fairy Morgane from Arthurian legend; and to the eponymous poem from 1940 by André Breton. For Bruno Roy, president of Fata Morgana since its establishment in 1966, it is a name with many associations. Roy names diverse concepts such as the Mediterranean Sea, destiny, and Surrealism. The publisher lavishes a great deal of attention on limited deluxe editions in the fields of literature, philosophy, poetry and essays, but its regular series also includes larger editions of over one thousand copies. Both series feature relatively new and unknown authors as well as canonical writers. The emphasis is always on the relationship between text and art.
This edition by Fata Morgana, Toute fleur n'est que de la nuit, appeared in the collection Hôtel du grand miroir, which was printed in an edition of no more than thirty copies, signed by the author and the artist. The book contains poetry by Philippe Jaccottet and four original photographs by Denis Brihat.

Humble objects

Denis Brihat wanted his photos to embellish the wall as 'poetic decorations', having fled the world of commercial photography early in his career. He moved to Bonnieux, a little village in the Provence surrounded by nature, to work 'on small pieces of nature, flowers or vegetables, more a kind of portrait than still life'.
The photographs in Toute fleur n'est que de la nuit reveal berry branches, leaves and flowers in sepia, black, white and silver tints. Although they sometimes resemble 'humble objects' according to Brihat, they still contain an entire universe inside them. The power of Brihat's work is often described by quoting Flaubert's characteristic phrase: 'Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough.' A similar idea is expressed by the poem 'Oiseaux, fleurs et fruits' by Jaccottet, which opens this edition: 'Every colour, every life is born where a gaze comes to rest.' Brihat saw it as his duty to discover and reveal the rich beauty of nature. He regards photography as the sum of mechanical, chemical and optical techniques. The intensive, time-consuming processes he uses are all part of the craft that he considered photography to be. Brihat experimented with various tinting techniques in order to add colour artificially to photographs that were originally black-and-white. The photos in Toute fleur n'est que de la nuit were also coloured by using metal alloys, like gold, copper and selenium. The gelatine in the photographs' top layer was treated chemically to create more clarity and depth in the prints.
The commentary emphasizes the poetic and delicate qualities of his work: 'Each of his pictures is a poem – almost a haiku,' wrote Sue Davies. Candace Dwan wrote: 'The zen-like purity of focus, sense of delicacy and the sublime, resonates throughout the work.'

Bibliographical description

Description: Toute fleur n'est que de la nuit / Philippe Jaccottet ; [photographies originales de] Denis Brihat. – [Montpellier] : Fata Morgana, 2001. - [6] p., [4] pl. : ill. ; 40 cm
Printer: La Charité (Montpellier)
Edition: 37 copies (of which 10 hors commerce)
This copy: Number 15 of 37 on vélin d'Arches
Typeface: Athenaeum
Note: Signed by the author and the artist.
Bibliography: Saur Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon 14-226
Shelf-mark: Koopm K 367

References

  • Michèle et Michel Auer, Encyclopédie Internationale des Photographes de 1839 à nos jours. Hermance, Éditions Camera Obscura, 1985
  • Michel Butor, Fata Morgana 1966-1976. Paris, Union générale d’éditions, 1976
  • Paul van Capelleveen, Sophie Ham, Jordy Joubij, Voices and visions. The Koopman Collection and the Art of the French Book. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands; Zwolle, Waanders, 2009
  • Sue Davies, 'Denis Brihat', in: Contemporary photographers. Detroit, St James Press, 1995

Poem by Philippe Jaccottet (p. [3])
Poem by Philippe Jaccottet (p. [3])

Poem by Philippe Jaccottet (p. [3])

Photograph by Denis Brihat (p. [7])
Photograph by Denis Brihat (p. [7])

Photograph by Denis Brihat (p. [7])

Photograph by Denis Brihat (p. [9])
Photograph by Denis Brihat (p. [9])

Photograph by Denis Brihat (p. [9])

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