Address by Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, on the occasion of the presentation of the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of the Legion of Honour to Dominique Missika, from Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres to Paola Gribaudo and Carole Weisweiller

Dear Dominique Missika,
There’s this picture, in shades of gray, full of wind, with Michele
Morgan and Jean Gabin sitting on the rocks by the ocean. We
look at this cliché as if we had become direct witnesses for a moment
of this parenthesis made of beauty and gravity for a couple in the cinema
and in life, in the making of Trailers. Morgan is 20 years old, Gabin,
36, it’s May 1940.

A cliché on the sidelines of cinema, which tells in its own way one of the realities
the brief passage of a sailor on leave to finish a
film started at the beginning of the «funny war», and a young woman
who will take refuge in La Baule with his family during the exodus.

This cliché, like so many others, like so many images, like so many writings
or letters passed through the hands of the postal control, as so many
testimonies of survivors, survivors, children, anonymous, this
are the sources of the remarkable historian you are, dear
Dominique Missika.

Far from the factual abstractions that sometimes conjure up, in the narrative
history, the unbearable nature of reality, you have given us to
see contemporary history, with a «Great Axe» as said
Georges Pérec, through thousands of testimonies and stories.
No numbers, rather names. In a scientific approach, you
have given voice to children, women, men, some
either their background or their importance, by telling how the story
went through their existence.

This gives us a multitude of books that place us, as readers, in
an overwhelming closeness to certain destinies of the Companions of the
Freedom, as with this woman too often quoted but so little known
that was Berty Albrecht, or Louis Clavel alias Petit Louis, but also the
Resistance: Family Stories, Stories of Jewish Children under
the Occupation with the Sorrow of the Innocents, or even these thousands of
couples separated by mobilizations and permissions in La
war separates those who love each other.

After studying history and geography with a
specialization in contemporary history, graduate of the Institute of Studies
Paris policies, you have devoted your career to the work of
memory. Often quoting Marc Bloch and his distinction between history and
memory, the first to explain, and the second to remember, you
you are kept away from the editorial temptations of controversy and
controversy, you have fled conceptual anachronisms that arise from
early reading.

The quality of your research work has led you to become a member
many scientific committees, including that of the
the memory of the Shoah, for which you constituted in the space of
a collection of testimonials co-produced with the Institut National de
Audiovisual. Since this year, you are also a member of the
scientific orientation of the Maison de l'histoire de France
my ministry.

But you also provide the literary direction or direction of
collection of a multitude of prestigious publishing houses. In
beginning with the editions of Seuil where you started, then Balland,
Payot, Nathan Jeunesse, Nil Editions, Robert Laffont
tallandier editions.

The book is not your only medium of transmission. On the airwaves, on the
cable channels, you broadcast a new way of doing
history, where the acceptance of the real, of its cruelty also to resume
Clément Rosset, has its place, with extracts from historical trials,
images, uncut stories, with no comments or retouches. I
of course, think of your tremendous editorial work as an editor in
head of the History channel, to your documentaries on France 3 and to your
collaboration with France Culture, for the broadcast of trials that will have
made the story - even if it must represent 25 hours of broadcasting:
Nuremberg, Pétain, Barbie, Papon, or more recently Outreau. In a
concern for citizen pedagogy, you also produce programs
on the functioning of justice, as in “A trial of assizes”
or “In the office of an investigating judge”. The success of the broadcast
of these trials is such that you decide, with the collaboration of Philippe
Truffaut, edit some of them on DVD. The original 145 hours
of the 1987 trial of Klaus Barbie, one of the first to be
filmed, are thus synthesized in 6 DVD in a great concern for sobriety,
without the addition of a single comment, as far as possible from the temptation of
best-of. The enthusiastic reception for these editions proves the correctness of
your gaze, which responds in our fellow citizens to a desire for living memory.

Finally, I would like to quote two other works for which we
immediately feels a special tenderness. The first, The French
stoves, was designed with Anne Schuchman. Dishes of the Belle
At the time of ration tickets, our contemporary history is
also tells through culinary practices.

With Childhoods, a century of history, your sensibility lies in
the importance given to the memories of children who also pass through, with
their sensations and imaginations, the events of our century. Also
that could have been the film of René Clément, Forbidden games, you deliver
in this collection 24 looks of children on different moments of the XXth
century and its parts of shadow that make you love these verses of Aragon that we
found in The Poetic Art: Let my rhymes have the charm that the
weapons on tears».

For your remarkable work as a historian who gave back voice and body
to all who have lived and produced the accounts of this story so close,
Dominique Missika, on behalf of the President of the Republic, and in
under the powers vested in us, we make you a Knight of
the Legion of Honour.
Dear Paola Gribaudo,
«Behind every art book there is a history», you say: the history of a
design, development of creative collective adventures and
In a recent letter Raymond Mason writes to you: Thanks to
You, dear Paola, I exist through the multiplication of publishing." Beautiful tribute
for a work you have been doing for thirty years, in the service of
most prestigious publications of art books, worldwide -
monographs, portraits of authors on the major
or private collections catalogues.

It’s your father, Ezio Gribaudo, artist, book designer and publisher
that you must discover this universe. It takes you into its
travels, and it is by his side that you meet the greatest
protagonists of 20th century art such as Giorgio de Chirico, Jean
Dubuffet or Lucio Fontana. He also teaches you
skills of the trade, which sensitizes you as much to works of art as to the
the craft dimension of the profession: printing techniques, the eye
for happy or unhappy marriages of color and paper that
absorbs it, the aesthetics of typography, the secrets of binding, of
density, thickness and grain of the paper, all ingredients that
preserve the coherence between an artist’s work and the book that receives it,
at the service of these magnificent objects which are as many intermediaries between
art and the reader.

After a dissertation dedicated to the conference on the expression of passions
by Charles Le Brun, for whom you become Parisian during a
year between the Louvre Museum and the National Library, you
specialize in publishing monographs and art catalogues, in
taking over the family home, Studio Gribaudo, in 1983.

Your collaborations with many major artists including
Raymond Mason, Mihail Chemiakin, Yuri Kuper, Boris Zaborov, Fernando
Botero, Wang Luyan, but also Sophia Vari, Vana Xenou or Eric
Fonteneau, among many others, give rise to works of
reference. The quality of your works is also due to your
collaborations with writers, historians and great art lovers - I
think of Jean Clair, Pierre de Mandiargues, Jean Leymarie, Daniel Abadie
or Pascal Bonafoux for example for Les Impressionnistes:
portraits and confidences.

Barnett Newman said: I hope my paintings can give the
others, as they have done for me, the feeling of their own totality,
their independence, their individuality, and at the same time their bond
to others, who are also separate entities.”
between artists and their audiences, institutions and
major international publishing houses with which you collaborate
as Rizzoli, Skira, or Thames&Hudson, the first publishing house
of Great Britain’s art book; links with the most prestigious
Parisian galleries, Albert Loeb, Di Meo, Patrice Trigano; with
museums - the Musée de la Monnaie de Paris, the Centre Pompidou, or
the Arab World Institute. You have built, year after year,
an extraordinary network of exchanges that you federate around you.

And the Gribaudo studio, which gave birth to some 930 «libri e librini»
by Paola Gribaudo, is by itself a center of gravity of the world of books
Dear Paola Gribaudo, on behalf of the French Republic,
The Knights of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Dear Carole Weisweiller,
«The city of Monthiers is located between the rue d'Amsterdam and the rue de
Clichy. One enters there, rue de Clichy, by a gate, and rue d'Amsterdam, by
a carriage door always open and a vault of building including the courtyard
would be this city, a real oblong courtyard where small mansions
conceal at the bottom of the flat walls of the block. These
small hotels […] must belong to painters. We can guess them full
of arms, of brocades, of canvases […] and the master inhabits them, unknown, illustrious,
overwhelmed with orders, official rewards, protected against
concern over the silence of this provincial city.”

This is how The Terrible Children of Cocteau begins, and it is in
the mysterious and unreal atmosphere of these Parisian mansions, where
behind the curtains of the upper bourgeoisie the secrets of the
love and creation, which the versatile Orpheus of the
and your mother Francine Weisweiller. Through her
cousin known as Nicole Stéphane, principal actress of
the film adaptation by Jean-Pierre Melville des Enfants
terrible, your mother is invited on the set. The magic happens between
the artist and who will become his protector, his friend and his patron.

Once this friendship is established, head for the Mediterranean, the blue, the light and
the memory of myths. The walls of the villa Santo Sospir appear
Cocteau, the guest became a close friend of the family. He decides to
make them speak louder, with frescoes «a tempera» populated by
figures of Greek mythology, fougasses, sea urchins and fishermen,
of solar deities. It all began with the decoration of the walls of the
living room for two summers, those of 1950 and 1951; today, the villa is
protected under the French Historical Monuments.

Francine Weisweiller, your mother, will forever be the lady under the umbrella,
in Balenciaga, the one “who was wrong in the time” in the Testament
of Orpheus, a film she has produced, some of which are
tours in your family villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

With this enchanting and outstanding tutor, the child you are
still discovers Proust through his correspondence, Ingres under the eye of
Picasso. When your mother transforms the Weisweiller mansion
Jean Marais, Poulenc, Picasso, Stravinsky, Truffaut,
Genet, Georges Auric, Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent, Clouzot and
others from that time, are invited to the house. An extraordinary chance
for a young girl who takes the measure of this bond of friendship and
of admiration that unites an artist with his patron.

A privileged witness to the French and international cultural world of the aftercentury,
you deliver your biographies, your portraits of artists and
your mother’s great patron, unpublished documents, keys
to decipher the creative energy of these tutelary figures. Through
stories, sketches, letters and poems, you share your
understanding of the wounds and visions through which the
blood of a poet».

Author of Je l'appelle Monsieur Cocteau, des Murs de Jean Cocteau and
most recently by Jean Cocteau – The Francine years 1950-1963, and
Santo Sospir and Jean Cocteau, among other works, among which Jean
Swamp the beloved, you revisit the glorious past of your family who
made for this «sacred monster» that the artist has incarnated, and to which
now the new museum dedicated to him in Menton, which I had
the honor of opening a few weeks ago, makes it beautifully

“It all seems so anachronistic and unreal to me that I have the feeling
to have turned 18 in the last century”. Your family’s story is also
the dark days of the Second World War, and a
after the war, when this passion for creation tried to ward off the madness of the
destruction. You will have inherited this exuberant vision of

Paying tribute to you is also paying tribute to your mother, it’s
honour in you the memory of those personalities who have contributed so much to
our cultural and artistic heritage, and a concept of patronage where
friendship has its place.

Dear Carole Weisweiller, on behalf of the French Republic,
let us make Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.