Apollinaire's Calligrammes

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Banker, soldier, magazine publisher, art reviewer, and cultural provocateur Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) published his first collection of poetry, L’enchanteur pourissant in 1909. He followed this with Alcools (aka Alcohols) four years later.

During the First World War, Apollinaire composed the word pictures that would form his third volume, entitled Calligrammes, poèmes de la paix et de la guerre 1913-1916 (Calligrams: Poems of War and Peace 1913-1916). Like his friend Pablo Picasso (who drew his frontispiece portrait), Apollinaire painted his view of the world in a non-linear way, using language and letters as his paint and brushes. Published the year of his death, Calligrammes remains one of the most influential books of the twentieth century.

This important work will be on view at the Princeton University Art Museum in the spring of 2013, as they celebration this generation of avant-garde artists and writers with an exhibition and symposium organized by Professor Efthymia Rentzou.

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Listen to a 1913 recording of Apollinaire reading his poetry: