Truman's Book Club: Jane & Serge: A Family Album

12.17.2013

By Julien Sauvalle

Never-before-seen pictures of a legendary couple

In an era that had no shortage of sulfurous icons, the couple formed by French singer Serge Gainsbourg and British actress Jane Birkin was surely the most fascinating.

Gainsbourg and Birkin met in the late '60s on the set of the movie Slogan. At first, they hated each other. It took a dinner-date arranged by director Pierre Grimblat to reconcile the pair — and for Gainsbourg and Birkin to fall madly in love. From that moment on, they lived a passionate love affair, documented here in Jane & Serge: A Family Album, published this month by Taschen.

Collecting previously unseen pictures taken by Birkin's brother, Andrew, the book offers a intimate portrait of Gainsbourg and Birkin's 12-year relationship, a union that was both intensely physical and creative. Together they produced the controversial duet "Je t’aime... moi non plus" (with lyrics that caused the song to be banned from airplay in several countries), the birth of their daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg (who became an acclaimed actress in her own right), and, in 1971, Serge Gainsbourg's masterpiece album, Melody Nelson, with Birkin as his muse. 

The pictures also trace the singer's style evolution from Parisian dandy to fiery rebel, under the influence of his much more free-spirited partner. 

Beautifully designed by Studio M/M, the book is presented as a photo album and includes an introduction by Jane and Andrew Birkin, a fold-out poster, a sticker sheet, an embroidered patch, and five photo prints from the family archive. A must-have for any self-respecting fan.

Jane & Serge: A Family Album, by Andrew Birkin. Published by Taschen. $59.99. Available now at Taschen.com

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