Thursday, 12 July 2018

OBITUARY - Artur Mário Mota Miranda (1928-2018)

Artur Mário Mota Miranda, who died at the age of 90 on April 25, was the dean of the Portuguese ex-librists, and dedicated his life to the dissemination and promotion of ex libris across borders.

At the end of the 50's he founded in Oporto with other enthusiasts and amateurs of ex libris the Oporto Association of Ex  íbris (APEL) that in 1956 began the publication of a magazine - "The Art of Ex Libris" with uninterrupted publication until the mid-'90s, dedicated exclusively to the world of ex libris under the direction of Artur Mário Mota Miranda. Neither his professional career in the ranks of the Overseas Administration that led him to prolonged stays in Portuguese Africa diminished his untiring enthusiasm with the timely publication of the Bulletin. Tireless because it involved keeping copious postal correspondence with collectors, artists, printers and similar associations.

Under his impulse APEL gradually established fruitful international contacts with the revived European ex libristi movement and with the ex libris artists active in Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and above all, in the Eastern European countries.
In fact, from 1953 onwards, Ex Libris Congresses (or Meetings) began to take place in various European cities - Kufstein (Austria), Lugano (Switzerland), Antwerp (Belgium), Frankfurt (R: FA), Amsterdam Barcelona (Spain), followed by Vienna, Paris and Krakow in 1964 - bringing together artists and collectors. Hence the foundation of an organization of pan-European origin that brought together various national Ex Libris Associations was a step. FISAE was born in 1966, during the Congress of Hamburg, under the impulse of Dott. Ing. Gianni Mantero, Albert Collart, Jean-Charles Meyer, Mme Meyer-Noirel and Carlo Chiesa, with 15 founding members, among them the A.P.E.L. who immediately joined, again under the influence of Mota Miranda.

Under the auspices of FISAE, 7 volumes of the work "Artistas de Ex-LíbrisEx Libris Artists – Artistes d’ex Libris" were published up to 1984, with Mota Miranda assuring the edition and publication of volumes III-VII, the last published.

Accumulating the functions of Director and Editor of the Bulletin «The Art of Ex-Libris» with those of President of the APEL Board that, in 1975, would be renamed the Portuguese Ex Libris Association, Mota Miranda gave the Bulletin an international perspective with a high graphic quality and content, disseminating the work of numerous ex libris artists, highlighting those from Eastern European countries, to a wider audience of ex libris amateurs, attracting the support of the most important artists and collectors.

Two decades after the foundation of APEL and one of the foundation of FISAE, Mota Miranda presented, on behalf of APEL, the candidacy for the organization of the XVI International FISAE Ex Libris Congress, which was to be held in Lisbon from 16-20 August. 1976, with the invaluable support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Mota Miranda was able to gather around him a plethora of enthusiasts - especially the eminent collector and artist Aulo-Gélio Severino Godinho, Eugénio Mealha, Fausto Moreira Rato and Sérgio de Oliveira - who successfully completed the Congress, with six excellent thematic Exhibitions of Ex Libris, Conferences and an International Ex Libris Contest, which involved, as an unprecedented fact, simultaneous translation at conferences and the Assembly of Delegates.

Meanwhile, Mota Miranda shuffled the task of editing and directing the monumental work Ex-libris bio-bibliographical encyclopedia of contemporary ex-libris art: encyclopédie bio-bibliographique de l'art de l'ex-libris contemporain: encyclopaedia bio-bibliographical of the art of the contemporary ex-libris: Bio-Bibliographische Enzyklopädie der Kunst Zeitgenössischer Exlibris: Bio-bibliografica dell'arte dell'ex libris contemporary, 30 vols, Braga, Edit. Franciscan, [1985-2003]. 

Following another one titled Contemporary International Ex-Libris Artists, having edited 24 volumes [2003-2018].

And in association with the great Italian collector Prof. Gian Carlo Torre he edited and published in 2003 the reference work on the Cervantine thematics - La aventura de Don Quijote en los ex-libris, edition limited to 300 copies, with articles by Gian Carlo Torre, Manuel Fontán del Junco and Mariarosa Scaramuzza Vidoni, and which includes a Catalog of Cervantes Ex Libris, by Gian Carlo Torre, José Miguel Valderrama Esparza and Artur Mota Miranda. 

In 2013-2104, she also edited two limited edition thematic works "Women Artists in the World of Ex Libris" and "Ex Libris Designers and their World".

Recognizing and paying tribute to his long activity as publisher and diffuser of the ex libris, FISAE awarded him in 2003 the Helmer Fogedgaard Certificate and in 2007, the Gianni Mantero Certificate.

Artur Mota Miranda had an unusual large number of personal ex-libris made by some of the most famous ex libris artists of the last 50 years, from Eduardo Dias Ferreira, Paes Ferreira, Aulo-Gélio Godinho, Marie-Louise Albessart, René Barande, Charles Favet, Jocelyn Mercier, Daniel Meyer, Raymond Prevost, E. Reitsma-Valenca, Antoon Vermeylen, Raymond Verstraeten, Christian Blæsbjerg, Julio Fernandez Saez, Maria Josefa Colom, Dafinel Duinea, Virgilio Tramontin, Pier-Luigi Gerosa, Ernesto Guffanti, Anatolij Kalaschnikow, Jaroslav Horanek, Miroslav Houra, Pavel Hlavaty, Miroslav Knap, Bohumil Kratky, Jana Krejcova, Mart Lepp, Arisztid Nagy, Arpad Daniel Nagy, Johann Naha, Evald Okas, Herbert S. Ott, Béla Petry, Zoltan Vén, Jaroslav Vodrazka to Marius Martinescu, to name but a few.

And, over more than half a century of activity, he assembled a vast collection of ex libris, highlighting the themes that attracted him most - Modernism and Art-Nouveau and Cervantes.

Over the past years he was an active presence in the FISAE Congresses keeping in touch with old friends, collectors and artists, and making new acquaintances among the new generation of artists.

With Mota Miranda disappears one of the pillars of ex libris in Portugal and a  distinguished member of a generation who revived ex libris in Europe.