This lecture will explore how this avant-garde book produced over a hundred years ago still resonates today.
In 1913, artist Sonia Delaunay and Poet Blaise Cendrars worked together to develop their extraordinary collaborative book, La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France. The 446-line poem was ostensibly about a trip taken on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, but it was actually an exploration of youthful Blaise’s poetic maturation. He laments his ability as a poet, travels in fits and starts, and views war images from the train’s windows. The structure of the book was determined by folded maps of Paris and by the galley proofs of the thirty styles of typefaces Blaise utilized. Sonia painted a seven-inch wide by six and a half foot-long oil painting to accompany the poem, which was translated into the edition via French pochoir. The resulting book-painting was folded in half, and then folded into an accordion book which fit into a painted vellum cover.
Kitty Maryatt began researching the production of La Prose du Transsibérrien in 2012. Maryatt’s detailed reproduction of La Prose du Transsibérrien has re-vitalized interest in old techniques and invigorated the field of artist’s books with her historic and monumental gift to art and artists, present and future.
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