Blaise Cendrars & Sonia Delaunay

La Prose du transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France [Trans-Siberian Prose]

About this artwork

Trans-Siberian Prose, written by the poet Blaise Cendrars and accompanied by Delaunay's abstract composition, was described as 'the first simultanist book'. The poem is a semi-autobiographical account of a train journey across Russia. It is particularly concerned with Cendrars's thoughts, as they flash backward and forward, evoking memories of Paris and his love for a young French prostitute. Instead of illustrating the text, Delaunay wanted to find a visual equivalent for the way it evokes patterns of thought. The 'book' comprises four joined sheets of paper folded into a hand-painted wallet. An edition of 150 had been planned which, laid end to end, would have equalled the height of the Eiffel Tower – envisaged by Delaunay as the archetypal emblem of modernity. However, only about sixty were made. Although each copy looks like an original painting, the colours were in fact applied through a stencil (pochoir), making each example virtually identical.

Sonia Delaunay

Sonia Delaunay