Artwork © Estate of Sonia Delaunay / image courtesy Zimmerli Art Museum.
Artwork © Estate of Sonia Delaunay / image courtesy Zimmerli Art Museum.

La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France, Paris: 1913

Illustrated book with pochoir
sheet: 200 x 35.6 cm. (78 3/4 x 14 in.)
Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, George Riabor Collection of Russian Art, acquired with Avenir Foundation Endowment Fund
L.2013.5.1
Artwork © Estate of Sonia Delaunay / image courtesy Zimmerli Art Museum.
Considered a milestone in the development of the artist's book, The Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Jehanne of France was a collaboration between the poet Blaise Cendrars and the artist Sonia Delaunay. They called their project the "first simultaneous book," implying that the text and image are meant to be read at the same time. The text describes the poet's journey from Moscow on the Trans-Siberian Railway, in the company of a young Parisian prostitute named Jehanne. The poem does not end at Harbin, the eastern terminus of the line, however, but in Paris, which is represented by the Eiffel Tower and the Big Wheel (La Roue) at the bottom. The Eiffel Tower, the tallest building in Paris, has also served as a radio tower since the early twentieth century. It is thus a symbol of Paris's connection to the world as well as of modernity. Cendrars and Delaunay also intended another connection to the Eiffel Tower: they initially planned to print 150 copies of the book, which measures two meters long. If laid end-to-end, together they would have equaled the tower's height.

More about Blaise Cendrars