French illuminator speaks on his love for ancient art form

Posted Thursday, November 20, 2008 - 6:31pm

Richard Leray, a master manuscript illuminator from Fontevraud l'Abbaye, France, came to CEU on November 2 to speak on illuminated art and how he is trying to keep the art from being completely forgotten. Leray has been giving lectures about his love of this form of art for 15 years. Unfortunately, he only gives about 20 lectures a year. So seeing him isn't an easy task. Leray started his lectures at the French National School of Illumination.

Leray spends most of his time in his studio working on his art. He finds the art beautiful and has loved it for as long as he can remember. He also has copies of his work and other artists work available. After the lecture different pieces of art and tools were on display for people to look at. He said in the 19th century, there where roughly 50 studios dedicated to the art of illumination.

Leray was invited to give a lecture in Utah by a good friend of his back in 1998, who is a Utah resident and discovered a side of Utah he never knew of and fell in love. He is very grateful to be able to come to Price and share his passion with the students at CEU.

"No one can appreciate a technique of art, they haven't hard about." Says Leray. This is one of the main reasons he makes pictures, does lectures and promotes the art all over the world. It is an ancient art form that dates back to the Egyptians. This art form was used to decorate and elucidate handwritten books with luminous colors. Although the art form died out in the early 18 century it has made a comeback within the last 20 years. Illumination is the fancy artistic letters you see at the beginning of a chapter in older books.

The lectures were full of people wanting to learn about Illumination art. Not many questions where asked during the lecture but once it was over people had quite a few.

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