Joëlle Dautricourt: The Book of the Happy Writing

On View:

May 16 – July 31, 2012

Opening Reception:

May 16, 2012, 5:300 pm – 7:30 pm


“France and the Jews” at 6:30 pm

Richard Bernstein, New York Times book critic and former Paris bureau chief
Andrea Baumann Lustig, President, A.R.I.F.- Association for the Restoration of Jewish Works and Institutions in France
Joëlle Dautricourt, Artist

Graphic artist and sculptor, Joëlle Dautricourt was born in 1956 in Paris where she still resides.  She explores Jewish writing and its graphic poetry along two lines: avant-garde modern books and Hebrew typography and calligraphy. Joëlle studied the fundamentals of Judaism and Jewish mysticism with Shmuel Trigano, professor of religious and political sociology at Paris X University Nanterre, and the late Charles Mopsik. Dautricourt studied Classical and Modern Literature at the Sorbonne. She later encountered the avant-garde artistic movements at the Galerie St Petri Archive of Experimental and Marginal Art which was opened by Jean Sellem at Lund in Sweden. In 1979 she began her research by asking the question “what is writing?” and looking at material from the earliest symbols through the newest technology and computer graphics.

In collaboration with Rabbi Pauline Bebe, Dautricourt produced for the Liberal Jewish Community of France graphic works and liturgical works composed only of letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Traced by hand and then scanned from Hebrew or Yiddish fonts, the letters are the only material used by this artist for both her research and her experiments. The computer, replacing the pen and ink that was used for many years, now offers her new ways of writing. Her latest creation, Le Livre de l’Écriture Heureuse (The Book of Happy Writing), was inspired by the second verse of Psalm 45: “My tongue is the pen of an expert scribe.”

Over the past 30 years, she has exhibited in France, Italy, Japan and in the United States.  She is in the collection of the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry in Florida. The artist has also delivered voice, tracing, and movement performances, notably at the 1st Grand Palais Book Fair and Georges Pompidou Center ArtistBook Manifesto in 1981 and at the 1st Paris Performances Festival at the Gallery Donguy in 1982. In 1989, she and Sophie Charrier organized a poetic digital theater, “Big Bang Art Inner Mouvement.” The Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme in Paris presented her work “The Book of the Happy Writing” in 2010.  She has taught at the College of Jewish Studies of the Universal Israelite Alliance and has participated in conferences on the question of writing and the symbolism of the book, as well as its graphic and plastic works.

The Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion Museum would like to acknowledge the following partners and supporters for our exhibition of The Book of the Happy Writing: Moment Magazine, A.R.I.F. – Association for the Restoration of Jewish Works and Institutions in France, Ruth and Marvin Sackner and the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, and Evelyn and Bernard Korman.

See more about this exhibition at: