‘Une page est une image’: Text as Image in Arts et métiers graphiques

  • Kristof Van Gansen KU Leuven


Arts et métiers graphiques (1927–39) was a French graphic arts periodical published by type founder Charles Peignot. It tried to address all aspects of graphic design and the art of the book in articles written by prominent art critics, graphic designers, book historians, and literary authors. These contents were presented curiously: on fine paper with an intricate page layout and multiple fonts, and with offset inserts serving as illustrations or samples of technical innovations such as colour printing, all of which would please the bibliophile readership. Apart from advocating the renaissance of the beau livre and bibliophilism, Arts et métiers graphiques tried to redefine or adjust the traditional view of the literary text. A literary text was not only a thing to be read, it was also a visual and material object, hence the editors’ virtually exclusive focus on material aspects of the books they discussed. In doing so, they wanted to broaden the scope of literary criticism to include such aspects. After a historical overview of the magazine and a discussion of the editors’ views on bibliophilism, this article aims to investigate the visual and material conception of the text in Arts et métiers graphiques.

Author Biography

Kristof Van Gansen, KU Leuven

Kristof Van Gansen holds a PhD in Literary Studies, which he obtained at KU Leuven. He studied the French graphic design periodical Arts et métiers graphiques (1927–1939), its ‘tempered modernism’, and its treatment of the literary text as an object. He curated an exhibition on this magazine, for which he also edited the catalog. He was part of the MDRN project (www.mdrn.be), a KU Leuven-based research group that studies (modernist) literature from a functionalist perspective. He is currently working as a publishing assistant.

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