Germaine Marguerite de Coster Biography

Germaine Marguerite de Coster




Painter, printmaker, and bookbinder and designer Germaine Marguerite de Coster was born in Paris, France, on September 1, 1895, into a family of Flemish engineers. A gifted artist from an early age, she began her formal art studies in 1912 at the National School of Decorative Arts. There she studied engraving under Charles Genuys and Paul Follot, and Japanese woodblock techniques under Jules Chadel and Yoshijiro Urushibara. Though she focused primarily on graphic arts, she also pursued textile design, which led to an internship at the set design workshop of Theatre du Vieux-Colombier under Jacques Copeau and Louis Jouvet.

In the early 1920s de Coster discovered bookbinding and design, which would become one of her primary pursuits as both an artist and a teacher. She collaborated with other artists and bookbinders such as Helene Dumas to create artbooks with elaborately tooled and stamped leather binding. Later, she would also illustrate several artbooks with her painterly woodcuts and angular, abstracted engravings.
In 1921 de Coster began a long and impactful teaching career, first as professor of decorative arts in the vocational schools of Paris, and then in 1931 at the Technical College of Applied Arts on Rue Duperre.

De Coster joined the Society of Decorative Artists in 1936, where she met famed bookbinder Baul Bonet who regularly included her work in the Society's salons; she later served as secretary and then as vice president. She was a member of and exhibitor with the Society of Original Bookbinding and the Society of Artists and Bibliophiles. Her reputation as a leading book designer led to international participation in artbook exhibitions.

Awards and honors:
De Coster's work as an educator garnered her a plaque of recognition from the Society for the Encouragement of Art and Industry, where she would later establish the Art Information Center. In 1946 she was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor, and in 1951 she was awarded the grand prize from the Original Bookbinding Society.

Musée d'Art moderne de Paris; the British Museum; the Musee national des beaux-arts du Quebec, Canada; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.,; and the Centre Pompidou, among others.