At the end of World War II in 1945, avid art dealer and collector Aimé Maeght (“mahg”) opened his art gallery in Paris, a time when a number of exiled artists were able to return to France. A year later in 1946 Maeght published his first issue of Derrière le Miroir, or Behind the Mirror, what would go on to be a monolithic exposition of the work of many influential modern artists, lasting 36 years up until just following his death, the final issue being published in 1982. Derrière le Miroir was a popular art and writing magazine amongst the French public, and provided a valuable connection between the exciting and innovative work being created by these artists and the everyday viewers and culture appreciators of their society.
Aimé Maeght At Work. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Artists like Matisse, Miró, Calder, Chagall, Braque, Giacometti, Kandinsky and Léger alongside writers and poets such as Balthazar and André Breton were offered full issues of space to make their mark, embracing the printing and publishing opportunity with entire suites of new unique material. Maeght had it stone lithograph printed at a luxurious 11-by-15 inches and in any number of colors that the artist was inspired by, often showing highly interesting standout pigments done with multiple passes— affording these creators a chance to reproduce, distribute and display high quality versions of their artwork into the hands of anybody interested. The resulting collection of the publication of 36 years of artists’ distinctive pieces is a radiant and visionary historical retrospective, allocating a space for some exceptional and inventive creations that exist nowhere else.
Galerie Maeght in Paris Image source: maeght.com
Mostly printed in editions of only 150, the pages from this publication are highly sought after as they represent a fleeting moment amidst a popular artist’s career in which their minds were given free reign to express something new and uninhibited while exemplary of their personal artistic identity.
Paul Rebeyrolle, Untitled, 1967, Lithograph
This double-page spread by Paul Rebeyrolle, Untitled, is from 1967. An impassioned painter, sculptor and social activist, his work in Derrière le Miroir proves a place for him to investigate a faster and lighter type of rumination.
Valerio Adami, Derriere le Miroir, no. 206 page,1973, Lithograph
In a piece by Valerio Adami from 1973, we see his wonderfully complex narratives in characteristic simplified shapes, the medium of lithography really calling his flat color forms into focus and creating a kind of magnetic atmosphere slightly different from his paintings.
Marc Chagall, Derriere le Miroir, no. 235 Cover, 1979, Framed Lithograph
A cover piece by Chagall from 1979 is a rare opportunity to appreciate the drawing personality of such an emotive and colorful painter, highlighting his essence with distilled pen and black ink.
Pierre Tal-Coat, DLM No. 199 Cover, 1972, Lithograph
Much of the work by artist Pierre Tal-Coat shows slowly meditative, reflective and emotional explorations of his subject matter. As shown in this 1972 front-to-back cover spread, it seems he used his space in Derrière le Miroir to create more impulsive and automatic works, though no less introspective.
Alexander Calder, Hearts and Spades, 1975, Mourlot Lithograph
For Calder, an artist known for his abstract shapes and simplified line-drawn sculptures, Derrière le Miroir was a chance to have fun with representational painting, as seen in Hearts and Spades from 1975— although we still get to see his distinctive style pervading the renderings of the portraits, the facial expressions, even the wallpaper.
Joan Miro, Derriere le Miroir, no. 87-88-89, pg 4,9, 1955, Lithograph
Miro took advantage of the looser format and included a few chemical formulas from what was probably his own note taking. What is nice is that we get to see his beautiful handwriting, a testament to his true artistry in all facets of his life.
Georges Braque,Untitled, Poster
Braque is so recognized for his boundary-pushing work in the development of Cubism that it is easy to lose sight of his more delicate sensitivities as a painter. A piece made for Derrière le Miroir shows his experiments with flattening shape, but is narratively quite deep, and uses light and shadow in a compelling, seductive way that transports the viewer into the described world as if into a lucid dream.
Alain Le Yaouanc, DLM No.176, pg. 7, 1969, Lithograph
And in a piece by Alain Le Yaouanc from 1969, we get to zoom in on the eccentric genius behind his usually much larger and more complex works. Between the assemblage, collage, sculpture, linework and architecture-like renderings that make up his unique style, Derrière le Miroir was a place for him to isolate an idea, some specific peculiarity deserving of more attention.
Derrière le Miroir, known affectionately as DLM to printers and collectors alike, is overflowing with unusual and intriguing pieces by some of the most influential artists of the 20th century. They are important enough to grace the walls of museums alongside other more popular works, and yet grounded enough to be accessible to everyday art lovers.