musée d'art contemporain
de Bordeaux


12.10.2018 -> 20.01.2019

Paul Bonet

Drawings for Bookbindings compiled by Florian Pumhösl

“The design of a binding should be a decorative synthesis of the book, on the verge of abstraction and concreteness, borrowing from the former its essentially spiritual nature, but mitigating it with concreteness so as to avoid impersonality.”

Paul Bonet



As part of its programme of exhibitions around artists’ books and editorial practices, the CAPC museum has invited the Austrian artist Florian Pumhösl to present a series of drawings for bookbindings by Paul Bonet.

The French graphic designer and reliure artist Paul Bonet (1889–1971) was active for more than forty years, designing covers for books on art, literature and philosophy. His practice developed alongside, and was inspired by, the main artistic currents of twentieth-century art in France (Art Nouveau, Cubism, Art Deco, Surrealism, Geometric Abstraction). While Bonet, who called himself an “essayist of bookbinding”, is famous among bibliophiles for his handmade covers, his name is also familiar to wider audiences thanks to his designs for mass-produced book covers.

The exhibition at CAPC presents original drawings, gouaches, stencils and preliminary sketches for his artisanal designs of the 1920s and ’30s (relief-embossed leather and cardboard bindings) and for his industrially produced bookbindings (cartonnages“after Paul Bonet’s model”), of which he developed several hundred prototypes (552 in total) for the Gallimard publishing house (formerly NRF) from 1941 to 1967. In the exhibition, these preparatory elements are framed and hung side by side so as to underline their autonomy from the content of the books for which they were conceived, attracting the viewer’s attention to their aesthetic qualities as well as to the specificities of the design in light of the production process.

Pumhösl’s presentation also incorporates sketches from Bonet’s hand (designs for book spines, gouache layouts for cardboard frontispieces, silver gelatin photographs etc.), arranged in purpose-made wall-mounted display cases that further highlight their ambivalent status as functional works of art.


This collection of drawings for bookbindings by Paul Bonet was put together with the help of Daniel Buchholz and Christopher Müller and was first exhibited at Buchholz Gallery, New York, from 4 May to 6 June 2018.

A selection of cartonnages “after Paul Bonet’s model”, kindly loaned by the Bibliothèque Mériadeck of Bordeaux, Les Champs Libres – Bibliothèque Rennes Métropole, the Bibliothèque d'Étude et du Patrimoine of Toulouse and Galerie Buchholz Berlin/Cologne/New York, is also on display in the exhibition.


This exhibition is supported by the Forum Culturel Autrichien


Thursday 11 October 2018 at 7 pm




-> Gallery, ground floor
-> Disabled access
-> Price: Museum Entrance, 7 € ; 4 € (reduced price)

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