“Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Jehanne of France,” 1913, Sonia Delaunay, written by Blaise Cendrars
“Before the war,” wrote Léger’s friend Blaise Cendrars, painters and poets “lived comingled, with . . . the same concerns.” This work, with illustrations by Sonia Delaunay-Terk and a poem about a railway journey by Cendrars, is one of the outstanding products of that collaborative milieu. Printed in a limited edition of 150 copies, it is meant to be read like a book and viewed like a painting. Both poem and illustrations reflect the aesthetic of Simultaneism, conveying the experience of spatial and temporal dislocation in a world reshaped by innovations in transportation and communication. The poem’s endpoint is Paris, and if all the copies of his unfolded poem were pasted together, Cendrars maintained, they would rise to the height of the Eiffel Tower.