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Le Marteau sans Maître

Kandinsky, Wassily. Char, René

Paris. Editions Surréalistes. 1934
The édition de tête of the first edition of René Char's 'Le Marteau sans Maître' with Wassily Kandinsky's original dry point engraving, here signed in pencil, unsophisticated in the original wrappers and with the very scarce original bandeau.

From the édition de tête limited to 20 numbered copies on papier de Hollande van Gelder with Kandinsky's original dry point engraving as frontispiece; only copies from the édition de tête were issued with the original engraving, which in this copy is - exceptionally - signed at lower right by Kandinsky in pencil.

This copy is complete with the very scarce original bandeau for the work with the printed quotation from Heraclitus of Ephesus: 'Il faut aussi se souvenir de celui qui oublie où mène le chemin.' (One must remember also the man who forgets which way the road leads).

Also included are the scarce subscription announcement printed on yellow paper and with a quotation from the Comte de Lautréamont and the 'vient de paraître' with a laudatory text by Tristan Tzara on white paper.

Kandinsky's untitled etching, issued in only 20 impressions, was followed by only two further etchings, those for 'La Main Passe' (1934) and 'Fraternity' (1939), before Kandinsky's death in 1944. Pablo Picasso was a profound admirer of Char and of the work, which collected all of Char's poems published after 1927, and submitted an etching for the second edition - printed in a very similar format to this edition - published again by José Corti's Editions Surréalistes, in 1945. A third illustrated edition was also published, illustrated by Joan Miró, in 1976. This first edition and in this issue of 20 copies with Kandinsky's etching is the rarest of the editions; Picasso's etching for the édition de tête was issued in 25 copies while the version with Miró's etchings was an edition of 215 copies, 50 with an additional suite.

'Le Marteaus sans Maître' includes 'Abondance Viendra', 'Poèmes Militants' (it appeared here for the first time), 'Arsenal' (corrected and with four new poems), 'Artine' and 'L'Action de la Justice est Eteinte'. As with many copies, this features manuscript corrections by Char in ink, here to page 92 and the poem 'L'Historienne'.

'Des trois éditions illustrées du 'Marteau sans Maître', celle-ci (la première) est la plus rare ... Dans une lettre à Char du 28.11.1933, Kandinsky accepte la demande de fournir une gravure pour son livre, bien qu'il ne connaisse pas l'auteur. Avec 'La Main Passe' de Tzara, c'est le seul ouvrage poétique illustré par Kandinsky [sic] ... '. (De Parallèlement à Chanson Complète).

'Auflage: 20 eigenhandig signierte Exemplare auf Van-Gelder-Butten ... Veroffentlicht in der Luxusausgabe von Rene Char, 'Le Marteau sans Maître', Paris, Editions Surréalsites, 1934.' (Roethel).

[Roethel 199; see 'De Parallèlement à Chanson Complète' pp. 357 - 364].
pp. 142, (i). 8vo. Leaf with half-title recto and 'Du Même Auteur' verso, leaf with Kandinsky's dry point engraving as frontispiece verso, printed title in red and black with copyright verso, Char's verse, two leaves with 'Table' and final leaf with justification and achevé d'imprimer recto. Original publisher's printed wrappers with titles to front cover in black and red and original bandeau with printed text in black.

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