ARTISTS of ‘O’ #10

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“I seek to build a serene and peaceful world full of fulfilled dreams” – Françoise Muller

French artist Françoise Muller illustrated Histoire d’O for Éditions Famot, a Swiss publishing house located in Geneva , created by Jean-Pierre Mouchard. Her illustrations for ‘O’ are little gems.

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Born in Strasbourg in 1949, Muller has describes her work as, “all about the continuing desire for a balance between heaven and earth, a harmony of bodies for spiritual well-being and an eventual transcendence… I seek to construct a peaceful and serene world full of realized dreams.” In her pictures birds are the messengers of the invisible world, fish signify renaissance and ceremonies are inspired by “ancient mysteries”.

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Trained at the Decorative Arts of Strasbourg, Muller continues to develop richly detailed work marked by surrealism and fantasy. Each element of her paintings has a symbolic meaning, allowing a double reading of the image, of the senses first, and then of the intellect.

Her illustrations for the little ‘deluxe’ edition of Story of O, published by Editions Famot in 1977 (one of a series of illustrated erotica), draw out the innate romanticism to be found in theFrancoise-Muller-O-7 book. Her images of ‘O’, René, Sir Stephen and the other protagonists are simply drawn characters, wisps of line, merging with detailed, stylized flora, and fanciful clothing enriched with elaborate pattern. Her ‘Roissy’ is all garden, outsize blooms and mildly threatening bull-rushes. Her whips are as ineffectual as spiders’ webs. Her ‘owl-mask’ is more flora than fauna.

Once again we find Aury’s Histoire d’O inspiring a different take on our favourite subject. These illustrations recall the Golden Age fairy book plates of old… “My characters evolve in weightlessness, (of water, air)” says Muller, “where they engage in celebrations within nature.”

Her ‘celebrations’ are “inspired by ancient mysteries. They dance and carry messages of fraternity.”

Fittingly, for Muller, Story of O ends at a garden party;

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A dozen people were dancing on the terrace and in a courtyard, a few women with very low-cut dresses and some men in white dinner jackets were seated at small tables lighted by the candlelight; the record player was in the left-hand gallery, and a buffet table had been set up in the gallery to the right. The moon provided as much light as the candles, though, and when it fell upon O, who was being pulled forward by her black little shadow, Natalie, those who noticed her stopped dancing, and the men got to their feet. The boy near the record player, sensing that something was happening, turned around and, taken completely aback, stopped the record. O had come to a halt; Sir Stephen, motionless two steps behind her, was also waiting.

The Commander dispersed those who had gathered around O and had already called for torches to examine her more closely. “Who is she,” they were saying, “who does she belong to?”

Muller exhibits regularly in the United States, Germany, Belgium and France. She has exhibited in Japan, Lebanon, Greece, Cairo and Tunisia.

1968-1971 – Elève aux Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg/ 1971-1973 – Collabore au journal”La Maison Française” à Paris/ 1973-1974 – Professeur de gravure à l’Académie d’Art de Provence.

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The Éditions Famot Histoire d’O (1977) illustrated by Françoise Muller (right) in its ornate binding. To the left is the equally ornate edition by Hachette (1976)

 

 

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