Sunday, October 28, 2018

View Originals of La Prose in the U.S.

I apologize for the gap in blog entries, but I have been assiduously working on the edition of La Prose and am now almost done with 106 copies, 30 of which are for the underwriters and for Atelier Coloris. That means that there are 74 more copies to make, which will take another nine months to a year. We plan to return to a more regular schedule of blog entries once we return from our trip to the Oak Knoll Book Fest and from our travels to view more originals of La Prose, two in Pennsylvania and two in Boston.

If you wish to make your own tour of originals in the United States, you can consult the list I have compiled below. There are 13 copies in public institutions and at least two in private hands that I know of. Wouldn’t it be a miracle if we could organize an exhibition of several of them to be hung side-to-side for comparison? That’s what I have been doing virtually through photographs I have taken at various institutions over the past several years, when allowed. You can compare the intensity of the colors, the different folding schemes, the signing of the books, and look at the most complicated areas to determine if they are different enough to be done by different hands.

This video shows my facsimile alongside the Legion of Honor copy: 

 And here, you can see my facsimile alongside the Getty Research Center copy:

List of institutions holding an original copy of La Prose du Transsibérien in the United States (this is an update to my census published in this blog last year; all copies are on simili Japon except one):

1. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA, #124, glued and folded into 21 panels, inscribed to Archipenko, vellum cover not attached
2. Yale University (Beinecke Library), New Haven, CT,  #131, glued and folded into 21 panels, vellum cover attached
3. Palace of the Legion of Honor (David and Reva Logan Collection), San Francisco, CA, unnumbered, on Japon (the only one in the US on Japon in a public collection)), glued and folded into 22 panels, vellum cover not attached
4. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, #139 (note that #139 was also assigned by Blaise Cendrars to the copy donated by Sonia Delaunay to the Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne in Paris), glued and folded into 22 panels, inscribed to Chilean painter Manuel Ortiz de Zarate: Noël 1916, vellum cover attached
5. New York Public Library (Spencer Collection), New York, NY, #47 (note that #47 ws also assigned by Blaise Cendrars to the copy in l’Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia), unglued and unfolded, inscribed to M. Jean Decloux, 21 June 1938
6. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, #97, glued and folded into 21 panels but now framed under glass, vellum cover detached
7. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, #38, glued and folded into 20 panels, signed by both Blaise and Sonia, vellum cover not attached, cover has snaps on front and back cover
8. Allentown Museum of Art, Allentown, Pennsylvania, unnumbered, four pages unglued and unfolded, vellum cover is surely a maquette with dark blue lines drawn everywhere as the pattern for painting the oil colors, cover is non-rectangular trapezoid, never folded
9. Harvard University (Houghton Library), Cambridge, MA, unnumbered, four pages unglued and unfolded, vellum cover not attached
10. University of Texas (Harry Ransom Center), Dallas, TX, #41, folded and glued, cover attached
11. MoMA, New York, NY, #150, glued and folded into 21 panels, inscribed to Louis Brun, cover not attached (see Inventing Abstraction exhibition catalog, exhibit shown 2012-2013)
12. Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota, MN, #130, glued and folded into 21 panels but now framed under glass), cover still attached
13. Wolfsonian-Florida International University, Miami Beach, FL, #147

In private hands in the U.S.:

#111 in Massachussetts (note that #111 was also assigned by Blaise Cendrars to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London)
#29 in Louisiana on Japon, folded and glued, inscribed to Mr. Kaplan, vellum cover attached

I have assembled a list of books held outside the U.S. in institutions, which still needs to be updated since last year: (many books on my earlier list show evidence of existence, but I don’t yet know where they are, so they are not listed here; all are on simili Japon unless noted))

#4 Muséo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain, (vellum copy)
Tate Modern, London, unnumbered (vellum copy), maquette
#11 Jean Bonna Collection, Switzerland (Japon copy)
#16 Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France (Japon copy)
#34 Jacques Doucet Library, Paris, France (Japon copy)
#47 l’Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia
#51 Bibliothèque Nationale, Switzerland
#57 Foundation Martin Bodmer, Geneva, Switzerland
#71 Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France
#110 Zadkine Museum, Paris, France
#111 Victoria & Albert Museum
#119 Biblioteca Marío de Andrade, São Paulo, Brazil
#137 National Gallery, Canberra, Australia
#139 Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne, Paris, France
Jacquet Doucet Literary Library, unnumbered (quite faded)
Musée d’Art et Histoire, Geneva, Switzerland, unnumbered (maquette painted by Sonia Delaunay)
British Library, London, England, unnumbered (“epreuve d’artiste”, artist proof with note to pocheurs)

Private Collection:
#9 South Africa, four pages on Japon, unglued and unnumbered, vellum cover not attached

Additions and corrections to the list are most welcome. Note that another census was published in the catalog for the exhibition at the Foundation Jan Michalski last November which I still need to correlate with my census. More to come.

Besides making books and trying to sell them, I have written a new long article, to be published later this year in The Codex Papers, with my latest theories about where the pochoir was done and why the edition was not completed, and more information about the type styles used by Blaise Cendrars and about Sonia Delanunay’s painting vocabulary. I also plan to have a table at Codex next February and hope to see you there.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Legion of Honor Symposium and an update on Ongoing Sales

Legion of Honor Symposium

The 2018 Reva and David Logan Symposium on the Artist’s Book will be held on Saturday, July 14, 2018 from 1:00 to 4:00 at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. It is free after museum admission and open to the public with no reservations needed. It accompanies the exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco called Paris 1913: Reinventing the Artist’s Book.

Organizer Steve Woodall writes: By 1913, Cubism was firmly established as a dominant mode for French artists of the avant-garde. Writers and artists traveled in the same circles, especially in the bohemian communities of Montmartre and Montparnasse, and frequent artist/poet collaborations produced radical new experiments with text and image. In that year, artist Sonia Delaunay and poet Blaise Cendrars collaborated on a groundbreaking artist’s book built around the Cendrars poem “La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France.” The 2018 Reva and David Logan Symposium takes this milieu, and La Prose du Transsibérien, as the background for an afternoon of discussions that examine poet/artist collaboration and the book as an art medium.

The keynote speaker is Marjorie Perloff, author of The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant-Guerre, and the Language of Rupture, and many other books. Her talk is titled Simultaneity and Difference in La Prose du Transsibérien.

There are four other speakers:
  • Craig Dworkin, Cubist Language: The Abstraction of the Word
  • Harry Reese, Pattern Recognition
  • Inge Bruggeman, Archives and Histories: Collecting and Recollecting
  • Kitty Maryatt, Construction and Deconstruction of a Masterpiece
 For more information, please see the symposium website.

Ongoing Sales 

The project to re-create the Blaise Cendrars/Sonia Delaunay 1913 publication, La Prose du Transsibérien, was published by Two Hands Press on January 1, 2018 and completed books are now shipping. It will take another nine months to a year to complete the entire edition. The title of the book is La Prose du Transsibérien Re-creation. The edition is limited to 150 copies, with 30 hors commerce. The price is $3500 plus shipping and may include sales tax if you live in California. To reserve your copy, please email me at I will send you more information about the book, a reservation form, and a pdf with several images.

The type for the book was printed last June by printer Richard Siebert in San Francisco. Two Hands Press licensed a high-resolution scan of La Prose from The Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Richard removed the surrounding pochoir colors from the Blaise Cendrars poem and then went through the whole text for weeks, cleaning up nearly every letter. Sixteen photo-polymer plates were needed to print the four 16 x 23 inch pages, with each one printed in four colors: orange, ruby red, green and blue. Each of the one thousand sheets was printed four times on his Heidelberg letterpress. The printing is very crisp and uses exactly the format of the original.

The gouache color for the Sonia Delaunay imagery is being hand-applied at Two Hands Press using thin metal stencils (pochoir = stencil in French). There are about twenty-five aluminum stencils for each of the four sheets, or one hundred in all. The sixty-six colors have been selected with great care to match the originals. I worked primarily with originals at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Palace of the Legion of Honor, and viewed nine other originals in the US, France and England. The 2008 Yale University facsimile was invaluable in the process; about one hundred tracings of the Yale facsimile were needed as patterns for cutting the aluminum pochoir plates.

The over six-foot book is folded once down the center and folded again into twenty-one panels to result in a book that is 3.625 by 7.125 inches. On one side you see the Delaunay image and on the facing side you see the Cendrars poem with the enhancing pochoir surrounding the type. A booklet with a description of the processes accompanies La Prose. The book is held unattached in its painted vellum cover. Both the book and the booklet are contained in an acrylic slipcase.
Finished, unfolded copy of La Prose du Transsibérien Re-creation
Painted vellum cover holds folded La Prose (left), Booklet with description of processes (right), vellum cover and booklet cover (center); all these parts fit into the acrylic slipcase
Front and back of vellum covers, with acrylic slipcase