Paris: Pierre Seghers and Imprimerie Union, 1953. Folded concertina, made up of three sheets assembled and attached to the back with strips of cloth. Original hangers attached to verso. With the publisher's original rhodoïd case. A gorgeous, fine copy, bright and fresh. Now housed in a custom clamshell box.
Eluard wrote the poem during the German occupation of France in 1942; it was originally published in the clandestine book of poetry Poésie et vérité 1942, and later printed in leaflet form and parachuted over occupied territories by the thousands by the British Royal Air Force. Liberté became a symbol of the Résistance under the oppression of Vichy and the German occupation. Eluard himself said of his stirring ode to freedom, “I thought of revealing at the end the name of the woman I loved and for whom this poem was intended. But I quickly realized that the only word I had in mind was the word Liberté. Thus, the woman I loved embodied a desire greater than her. I confounded it with my most sublime aspiration, and this word Liberté was itself in my whole poem only to eternalize a very simple will, very daily, very apt, that of freeing oneself from the occupation.”
This edition was commissioned as a tribute to Eluard just after his death. The publisher Pierre Seghers asked Léger to illustrate the poem, and he designed this remarkable “poème-objet” in tribute to his friend. The bright pochoirs were printed by Albert Jon. A total of 212 copies were printed, with twelve on canvas hand-illustrated by Léger himself; 200 on Auvergne paper, and an additional twenty-six lettered copies “tirés pour les divers artisans de ce poème-objet.” This is letter ‘A’ of the twenty-six copies, complete with the publisher’s rhodoïd case which is lettered on the spine. The case is rare and not often seen. Also included is the original invitation card for the presentation of the book on October 23, 1953 at the Galerie Louis Carré. An exceptional copy of a talismanic and beautiful object, a high spot of twentieth century printing and publishing.
Saphire, Fernand Léger. L’Œuvre gravé, p. 300. Item #2243