Le Frère mendicant, o Libro del Conocimiento [Mendicant Friar, or the Book of Knowledge]
Jiménez de la Espada, Marcos and Pierre Margry
Latitud Cuarenta y Uno,
Folio, loose as issued in vellum wrappers with drypoints printed on the upper and lower covers. Auvergne jacket folded in various ways with lettering on the front. Within publisher’s sleeve and slipcase. Illustrated with 16 drypoints by Picasso.Edition of only 54 copies on Japon ancien, numbered 1–54, signed by Picasso and Iliazd. Dated in red pencil by Iliazd. Texts in French and in Spanish. Le Frère mendiant is a beautiful example of the successful collaboration between Iliazd and Picasso. Chapon says “peut-être touchons-nous là au sommet de la conjonction Iliazd-Picasso” (perhaps we are seeing here the summit of the combination Iliazd-Picasso). (Centre Georges Pompidou, Iliazd, p. 73)“The ‘frère mendiant’ (mendicant friar) was a Castilian Franciscan, living in the fourteenth century, who went to Africa before it was colonized; the account of his travels—mainly in Guinea and Ghana—was published in 1877, under the title Libro del conocimiento, by Jiménez de la Espada. Iliazd loved travel books, and was particularly interested in Black Africa. (He had, moreover, married a black princess in 1943.) He was deeply impressed by the beauty of the African landscapes of bygone days, and by the simplicity and kindness of the inhabitants. In his preface to the book, Iliazd writes of the modern, liberal spirit of its author…“It seems that Picasso participated enthusiastically in this French-Spanish tribute to Black Africa and her civilization (the rediscovery of which in 1906 had played an important role in his own artistic development). Picasso covered 2 x 8 plates provided by Iliazd with cheerful renditions in drypoint of the landscapes, vegetation and inhabitants of this continent he had never visited…“Iliazd’s lay-out of the book has a processional rhythm which is felt as one leafs through the pages, and sees one unknown land after another.” (Cramer-Goeppert)
Centre Georges Pompidou, Iliazd, pp. 73, 114–115. Cramer-Goeppert, 98. MoMA, Iliazd and the Illustrated Book 24–25, plates 23–26. Papiergesänge, p. 40.