Books On Books Collection – Bernard Heidsieck

Abécédaire n° 6 clef de sol : été 2007 (2015)

Abécédaire n° 6 clef de sol : été 2007 (2015)
Bernard Heidsieck
Accordion book in slipcase. Closed: H230 x W170 mm. Open: W442 mm. 26 panels. Acquired from Gallix, 17 July 2022.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.

In French, wouldn’t an abecedary in the key of G (the fifth note “sol” in the Do-Re-Mi song) have to be associated with the summer (été) and sun (soleil)? That may be the nearest to the fixed association of letters with objects you will find in this work by one of the 1950s creators of Sound Poetry (Poésie sonore).

The collage mixes uppercase and lowercase, serif and sans serif and numerous families of type.

Like beauty and a Rohrshach test, any significance to the collage of each letter is left to the eye of the beholder. Or the ear. Do the positions of the main A, B and C suggest the opening notes of the ABC song?

The confetti-like N’s and n’s look like stemless notes being drawn up and down the staves. The O in the center of the staves surrounded by a rectangle of O’s resembles the sound hole in a cigar box guitar. The P’s are dripping in three dwindling streams of p’s. The Q’s and q’s seem bottled up and rising to spout onto the staves.

The X’s make an X, or perhaps the struts of a drum with a bass drum stick tucked in. Y forms a mosaic banjo. While Z looks like a bird of prey with its wings at the peak of an upbeat, readied for a powerful downbeat and lift off, it could the horned helmet of a nineteenth-century opera soprano.

Other artists in the collection have used the musical stave in their alphabet-related works: Karl Kempton and Jim Avignon & Anja Lutz. But Heidsieck uses the stave like a musical note and the leporello structure like a musical stave itself. Across its panels, the image of the stave sometimes keeps to the same position, sometimes descends or ascends across two or more panels — like musical notes. Sometimes it supports the letters, sometimes it suspends them, sometimes it embraces them, sometimes it embeds itself among them. The letters defy any expectation of behavior of notes fixed to the stave, but they are never independent of it. Rather than asserting synesthesia as Rimbaud or Nabokov do with words, Heidsieck’s work enacts it by conflating the structures and elements of musical notation, the alphabet, the accordion book and painting.

Further Reading

Abecedaries I (in progress)“. Books On Books Collection.

Jeremy Adler“. 29 October 2022. Books On Books Collection.

Jim Avignon and Anja Lutz“. 29 October 2022. Books On Books Collection.

Karl Kempton“. 29 October 2022. Books On Books Collection.

Alix, F. 2014. “Bernard Heidsieck, Tapuscrits – Poèmes – Partitions, Biopsies, Passe-partout“. Critique d’art.

Bobillot, J.-P. 1996. Bernard Heidsieck: Poésie action. Paris: J.M. Place.

Bobillot, J.-P. (2003). Trois essais sur la poésie littérale: De Rimbaud à Denis Roche, d’Apollinaire à Bernard Heidsieck. Romainville: Al Dante.

Collet, F. (2009). Bernard Heidsieck plastique. Lyon: Fage.

Froger, G. (2016). “Bernard Heidsieck, Abécédaire n°6 – « clef de sol » – été 2007 “. Critique d’art. Accessed 17 July 2022. 

Kempton, Karl. 2018. A History of Visual Text Arts. Berlin: Apple Pie Editions. Accessed 15 December 2020.

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.