Henri Barande – The Work Beyond

The rarely seen paintings and sculptures of the elusive Henri Barande are celebrated in a new book with 3,500 different covers...


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Bands often release albums with different cover artwork and glossy magazines do the same from time to time. The avid collector will usually buy all the different versions as they tend to be special or limited editions. Now the launch of 'The Work Beyond', a new art monograph on the work of French artist Henri Barande, has taken this to the extreme. Each of the 3,500 flexibound books will have a different cover using details and elements from Barande's graphic paintings.

Creative Director Christoph Stolberg and German design firm Schultzschultz were inspired by how Barande's work was displayed in his studio in Lausanne, Switzerland. Hung tightly together, the way the paintings were juxtaposed led them to come up with the concept of a different cover for each book to reflect the artist's aesthetic. An incredible 8,500 random combinations of cover images were generated, before the final selection was hand-picked and a special typeface designed for the book's title.

ABOVE: Which one to choose? Each cover of 'The Work Beyond' is unique
ABOVE RIGHT: Henri Barande as a young man
BELOW: A floating geometric shape on a vivid blue background is displayed against a solarized portrait of a young girl in Middle Eastern attire

ABOVE FROM LEFT: Architectural shapes are juxtaposed with a gruesome mask of death

Born in Morocco in 1945, Henri Barande grew up in Carthage, Tunisia, where the atmosphere, architecture and geography had a major impact on his work. Think flat colour fields and geometric shapes, and hazy barely decipherable faces contrasted with skulls, shoes and religious icons. Look closely and you'll also find nods to the great artists of the 20th century such as Gustav Klimt and Vincent van Gogh. The spatial quality of Barande's paintings is also reflected in the book's clean airy layouts which give the work room to breathe. 

ABOVE: Strappy sandals and abstract shapes contrast with loose renderings of Vincent van Gogh and Gustav Klimt's 1907 painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer

Sometimes abstract, sometimes figurative, Barande's deceptively simple paintings and sculptures will be on show at London's Saatchi Gallery from 4 to 30 October 2016 to accompany the launch of 'The Work Beyond'. It's an exhibition well worth catching as you might not get the chance again given this intensely private artist originally intended to hide or destroy his works, preferring to keep them out of the public eye for 50 years. Luckily, American curator and critic David Galloway persuaded him to share his creativity. The art will be untitled, undated, unsigned and strictly not for sale, but it's a rare opportunity to see these stunning canvases up close. 'The Work Beyond' is a great insight into one of the art world's more reclusive artists and with its unique collection of covers the book is a work of art in itself. Snap one up before they go go...

BELOW FROM LEFT: Simple angled lines and flat colours suggest internal rooms

'Henri Barande: The Work Beyond' by David Galloway (Booth-Clibborn Editions, £25) Available from September 2016 booth-clibborn.com. The accompanying exhibition is at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York's HQ, King's Road, London, SW3, from 4 to 30 October 2016 saatchigallery.com