Pierre Lecuire: assessing the coexistence of the material and the virtual in his modernist publishing project

Emma Wagstaff, Nina Parish

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This article considers the publishing project of French writer and book producer Pierre Lecuire (1922–2013), a key figure in the French world of artists’ books, with a particular focus on his collaborations with artist Nicolas de Staël that were never realized in the form initially envisaged for them. It examines, first, Lecuire’s well-established interest in the materiality of the book form through exquisitely produced collaborations with such artists as Zao Wou-Ki and Geneviève Asse, and the suggestion that he aspired to an ‘ideal’ book that would be experienced through all the senses rather than simply read. However, the article goes on to argue that this emphasis on the material is, rather, inseparable from the virtual once unfinished and absent books and associated documents also created by Lecuire are taken into account. With de Staël, for instance, he planned to stage a series of ephemeral Ballets-Minute, a project that was not achieved, but they did lead to two associated books. Lecuire presents the documents as relics of unrealized projects, thereby foregrounding the process of production and controlling the narrative of his own contributions. The article concludes that the unfinished project and the provisional fragment play an essential role in Lecuire’s work, which places it within a broader Modernist context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143
Number of pages152
JournalWord & Image
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2016


  • Pierre Lecuire
  • Artists Books
  • Modernism
  • Materiality
  • Virtual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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