Stratis Eleftheriadis - Teriade was born in Mytilini in May 1897 and died in Paris in October 1983. When he was eighteen years old, he left for Paris where he studied. His real passion, however, from his youth was painting and in his early years he painted a number of oils’ landscapes and still - life’s.
In Paris, his interest in art gravitated to art theory and criticism rather than painting. This was the period in which modern art was first taking form and gradually Teriade entered the circle of the pioneering modern artists and their proponents.
He entered into a significant and enduring collaboration with already established editors and publishers such as Christian Zervos, Albert Skira. Maurice Reynald and others. He devoted himself to publishing periodicals, book and newspapers articles concerning art. After gaining many years experience, Teriade became not only well-known but also highly respected.
In 1937 he established his own publishing house, VERVE, which produced a quarterly review of the same name as well as many other art books. The contributors to VERVE included the most brilliant writers, poets and painters of the period.
Thus began a unique and unprecedentet artistic creation, not only in its appearance but also in its content, which was published on a regular basis until 1971. At the same time that he was publishing VERVE, Teriade was inspired to encourage and guide his many painter friends in the creation of the so-called “Grand’s Livres”. The “Grand’s Livres”, consist both of existing texts of well-known authors with original illustrations by an artist, and of new texts written by the artist himself and accompanied by illustrations.
It should be explained at this point that VERVE is composed of reproductions of already axisting works, while the Grand’s Livres are in themselves original works of art (lithographs, engravings, woodcuts, printed by hand in a limited edition of 180 to 250 copies, numbered and signed by the artist. Even the paper is hand-made and the book’s title appearing in a water-mark on every page.
The idea of The “Grand’s Livres” came to Teriade as a result of his experience as a publisher, his profound knowledge of painting and his study of illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages. Above all, he played a catalytic role inspiring the artists of his time to achieve the intimate union of art and poetry.
After discovering Theophilos, the primitive painter of Lesbos in the 1930, Teriade financed entrirely and donated to Mytilini in 1964 “The Theophilos Museum”. At the time he already had it in mind to build a Museum-Library to house and display his work as an editor and publisher. This idea materialized in the museum of today which in 1979 was also donated by Teriade to Greece. Teriade’s wish was that every visitor might savor these books, and so he conceived the idea of the Museum’s actual presentation.
In every room there is a showcase displaying one of the “Grand’s Livres” while on the walls are hung the artist’s proofs made prior to the final printing. As the visitor passes through these rooms he or she can follow the creative process and thus can take part in the dialogue between painting and poetry. This was the original goal of Teriade. We can there fore aptly call this museum “The Open Book”.
A little time before his death, Teriade donated to museum: 37 select painting of Theophilos that he had collected for his exhibitions, 6 paintings of Tsarouhis and 3 paintings of Kaliyannis that are exhibited in the museum with several paintings donated by other painters.