Interlude: FMR, "The most beautiful magazine in the world"

I discovered FMR, the magazine of Franco Maria Ricci, while doing a walkthrought of the periodicals section of the library where I work. It had been mentioned to me previously by a lovely woman, the wife of one of the professors at the College who had art history interests herself.

I picked up a few volumes and WOW, this is one scrumptious publication. It features articles and full page enormous printings of the art being discussed. The artists and works featured are many and varied. Volume 29, which I have just finished, features :

  • Ladies of the Court: Fontainebleu
  • The Face of Yemen
  • Mr. Tiffany's Lamps
  • Those Obscure Objects of Design: Fornasetti
  • Fragrant, Flagrant Fragonard

When I first opened this volume, I found myself staring at this:

Not an easy image to look at on the subway (which is where I unfortunately happened to be) but still a gorgeous two-page spread of the painting. The publication is filled with these, and its self-proclaimed superlative: "The most beautiful magazine in the world," is justified.

The most fantastic part about this publication is the writing they have selected to go along with the art. Generally, for every art "topic," there are two writing pieces that accompany it. These pieces vary greatly: one may be a short dedicatory passage taken from a contemporary of the artist; one may be a mid-length scholarly or biographical essay from a current writer; one may be an idiosyncratic writing contemporary to the artists and of as much interest in and of itself to us.

Accompanying the Fragonard piece in volume 29 was a variety of images that were selected to support the exhibit of Fragonard's work being held at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais at a time current with this publication. Also included was a short passage from Pierre Rosenberg who was chief curator of the Louvre's Department of Paintings, and a wonderful essay titled: "Poet of the bed-chamber" by Edmond and Jules de Goncourt which was first published in an article in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1865.

In 1865 they wrote:

The last century had no poets; I do not mean rhymers, versifiers, word-spinners; I say poets advisedly. Poetry in the noblest and most profound sense of the term, poetry which is creation through imagery, poetry which is an enchantment, an enhancement of the imagination, an ideal of pensive meditation or smiling delight offered to the human mind, that poetry which lifts us from the earth, with throbbing wings, the spirit of an age, the soul of a people, such poetry was unknown in eighteenth-century France; her two poets, the only two, were painters: Watteau and Fragonard.

And thus are we allowed to enter into the thoughts of a contemporary of the artist, being given both image, primary source account, and contemporary-to-us commentary.

Designboom has a good page dedicated to the man behind the magazine, I have just begun to explore some of this information and it is fascinating that someone so "Renaissance-man" in their talents and interests still exists. The magazine is still published, and for a pretty penny you can subscribe (159.50 for a year of six volumes)

Here's a link to the interview they did with the man himself:

http://www.designboom.com/eng/interview/ricci.html

One more fascinating thing: Fornasetti, a new designer to me, is discussed in this volume as well.

Here is a link to a bit of information on him, also housed at Designboom, and the following link is to a page where you can purchase products designed by Fornasetti.

http://www.designboom.com/world/fornasetti/index.html

http://minimadesign.com/gallery.asp?gallery=Fornasetti

I've only read through 4 of the many volumes of this magazine...and already there are so many interesting avenues revealed to me that i hardly know which to explore.