At Apollinaire’s Grave

At Apollinaire’s Grave (Nic Saunders, 2011) Short film Poster

Haunted by his past, The Poet travels to Paris determined to follow in the footsteps of his literary heroes. What he finds there will change his life and work forever. Allen Ginsberg wrote the source poetry at The Beat Hotel, 9 rue Git-le-Coeur, Paris and the exterior of the hotel is actually used in the film.  This is the second film directed by Nic Saunders based on the work of a member of the Beat Generation.

 
 

“…voici le temps

Oú l’on connaîtra l’avenir

Sans mourir de connaissance

 
 

I

I visited Père Lachaise to look for the remains of Apollinaire

the day the U.S. President appeared in France for the grand

conference of heads of state

so let it be the airport at blue Orly a springtime clarity in the

air over Paris

Eisenhower winging in from his American graveyard

and over the froggy graves at Père Lachaise an illusory mist as

thick as marijuana smoke

Peter Orlovsky and I walked softly thru Père Lachaise we both

knew we would die

and so held temporary hands tenderly in a citylike miniature

eternity

Roads and streetsigns rocks and hills and names on everybody’s

house

Looking for the lost address of a notable Frenchman of the Void

to pay our tender crime of homage to his helpless menhir

and lay my temporary American Howl on top of his silent Caligramme

for him to read between the lines with Xray eyes of Poet

as he by miracle had read his own death lyric in the Seine

I hope some wild kidmonk lays his pamphlet on my grave for

God to read me on cold winter nights in heaven

already our hands have vanished from that place my hand

writes now in a room in Paris Git-le-Coeur

Ah William what grit in the brain you had what’s death

I walked all over the cementery and still couldn’t find your grave

what did you mean by that fantastic cranial bandage in your

poems

O solemn deathsead what’ve you got to say nothing

and that’s barely an answer

You can’t drive autos into a sixfoot grave tho the universe is

mausoleum big enough for anything

the universe is a graveyard and I walk around alone in here

knowing that Apollinaire was on the same street 50 years ago

madness is only around the corner and Genet is with us

stealing books

the West is at war again and whose lucid suicide will set it all right

Guillaume Guillaume how I envy your fame your accomplishment

for American letters

your Zone with its long crazy line of bullshit about death

come out of the grave and talk thru the door of my mind

issue new series of images oceanic haikus blue taxicabs in Moscow

negroes statues of Buddha

pray for me on the phonograph record of your former existence

with a long sad voice and strophes of deep sweet music sad and

scratchy as World War I

I’ve eaten the blue carrots you sent out of the grave and Van

Gogh’s ear and maniac peyote of Artaud

and will walk down the streets of New York in the black cloak

of French poetry

improvising our conversation in Paris at Père Lachaise

and the future poem that takes its inspiration from the light

bleeding into your grave

 
 

II

Here in Paris I am your guest O friendly shade

the absent hand of Max Jacob

Picasso in youth bearing me a tube of Mediterranean

myself attending Rousseau’s old red banquet I ate his violin

great party at the Bateau Lavoir not mentioned in the

textbooks of Algeria

Tzara in the Bois de Boulogne explaining the alchemy of the

machineguns of the cuckoos

he weeps translating me into Swedish

well dressed in a violet tie and black pants

 a sweet purple beard which emerged from his face like the moss

hanging from the walls of Anarchism

he spoke endlessly of his quarrels with André Breton

whom he had helped one day trim his golden mustache

old Blaise Cendrars  received me into his study and spoke

wearily of the enormous length of Siberia

Jacques Vaché invited me to inspect his terrible collection of

pistols

poor Cocteau saddened by the once marvelous Radiguet at his

last thought I fainted

Rigaut with a letter of introduction to Death

and Gide praised the telephone and other remarkable inventions

we agreed in principle though he gossiped of lavender underwear

but for all that he drank deeply of the grass of Whitman and

was intrigued by all lovers named Colorado

princes of America arriving with their armfuls of shrapnel and

baseball

Oh Guillaume the world so easy to fight seemed so easy

did you know the great political classicists would invade Montparnasse

with not one sprig of prophetic laurel to green their foreheads

not one pulse of green in their pillows no leaf left from their

wars‒‒ Mayakovsky arrived and revolted.

 
 

III

Came back sat on a tomb and stared at your rough menhir

a piece of thin granite like an unfinished phallus

a cross fading into the rock 2 poems on the stone one Coeur

Renversée

Other Habituez-vous comme moi A ces prodigies que j’annonce

Guillaume Apollinaire de Krostrowitsky

Someone placed a jam bottle filled with daisies and a 5&10₵

surrealist typist ceramic rose happy little tomb with flowers and overturned heart

under a fine mossy tree beneath which I sat snaky trunk

summer boughs and leaves umbrella over the menhir and nobody there

et quelle voix sinistre ulule Guillaume qu’es-tu devenu

his nextdoor neighbor is a tree

there underneath the crossed bones heaped and yellow cranium

perhaps

and the printed poems Alcools in my pocked his voice in the

museum

now middleage footsteps walk the gravel

a man stares at the name and moves toward the crematory

building

Same sky rolls over thru clouds as Mediterranean days on the

Riviera during war

drinking Apollo in love eating occasional opium he’d taken the

light

one must have felt the shock in St. Germain when he went out

Jacob & Picasso coughing in the dark

a bandage unrolled and the skull left still on a bed outstretched

pudgy fingers the mistery and ego gone

a bell tolls in the steeple down the street birds warble in the

chestnut trees

Family Bremont sleeps nearby Christ hangs big chested and

sexy in their tomb

my cigarette smokes in my lap and fills the page with smoke

and flames

an ant runs over my corduroy sleeve the tree I lean on grows

slowly

bushes and branches upstarting through the tombs one silky

spiderweb gleaming on granite

I am buried here and sit by my grave beneath a tree

Allen Ginsberg

Paris, Winter-Spring 1958

 
 

To watch the trailer of At Apollinaire’s Grave, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

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A Kind of Telegraph

Cassandre

 
 

He was baptized Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron and was born in Charkow, Ukraine in 1901 to French parents. In 1915, when only 14 years old, he had the exceptional blessings of his parents to become a painter and was sent to Paris to study at the stiffly academic École Des Beaux Arts. While studying there, he adopted France as his country. He took his nom de plume Cassandre after the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Cassandra uttered true prophecies, a gift granted by Apollo, but when she refused his attempted seduction, he placed a curse on her so that she and all her descendants’ predictions would not be believed.

 

Unlike his mythic inspiration, at the beginning of Cassandre’s career, people really believed in his art. Blaise Cendrars called him “The first scenic director from the street” due to his qualities as an affichiste (the French term for poster designer) and Milton Glaser stated that Cassandre was without demur the greatest graphic designer from the early XX century.

 
 

Some of his most famous poster designs

 
 

The details of Cassandre’s youth are as lean as his working philosophy. He produced his first poster, “Au Bucheron” at 22, and became a successful and influential poster artist, best known for his epoch-defining travel posters and his advertisements for products such as Dubonnet. The consummate art deco artist, he tried to create posters for people who did not try to see them. In 1936 he traveled to America to work on several projects. While there he designed several surrealistic covers for Alexey Brodovitch at Harper’s Bazaar. In addition, he created for NW Ayers, the classic eye of the Ford billboard and several pieces for the Container Corporation of America. His career as a poster designer ended in 1939 when he changed disciplines and became a stage, set and theatrical designer.

 

His post-École education included a period of study with Lucien Simon at the Académie Julian, followed by a period of compulsory military service. Shortly thereafter he created the Au Bucheron poster, whose inspiration Cassandre modestly maintained, sprung from a struggling artist’s effort to support himself. A contemporary, Maximilien Vox, in his monograph on Cassandre, characterized him in his mid-career as “a thinker and an engineer, a lover of nature and a reader of books; such he was then, such he is now. A puritan in our midst, a worshiper of all things beautiful.” This fortuitous combination of qualities can be seen in one way or another in almost every one of Cassandre’s magnificent posters. The leap from the Bucheron poster in 1923 to the succeeding one for Pi Volo aperitif embraced a quantum jump. This poster, with its fusion of bird, glass, light and dark forms and its art deco lettering, demonstrates that Cassandre had assimilated the revolutionary ideas of shape and interpenetration of form developed in the cubist and abstract paintings of Juan Gris, George Braque, and Pablo Picasso. Barely a year later he created the immortal “L’lntransigeant” truck poster.

 
 

Le espectacle est dans la rue” (“The show is on the street“) a project with the collaboration of Blaise Cendrars

 
 

Cassandre assumed that an indifference to advertising’s message was the natural state of the man in the street. He always insisted that his posters were meant to be seen by people who do not try to see them. To enter the private world of the public consciousness, he claimed he forced his way “not like a gentleman through the front door with a walking stick, but like a burglar through the window with a jimmy.” At the same time, while designing his posters, Cassandre had begun to design several avant-garde type faces. These fonts, derived in good measure from his imaginative poster lettering, received a ready sponsorship from the progressive type-founders Deberny and Peignot, names we also recognize from Arts et Métiers Graphiques.

 

He created some typefaces: Bifur (1928-1929), Acier Noir (1930-1936), Peignot (1933-1937), Touraine (with Charles Peignot, based on a design of Guillermo Mendoza, 1947), Cassandre (1968), Graphica81 (1960), and the artsy Cassandre Initials (1927, made in digital form by Gerd Wiescher at Elsner&Flake). Most of his work was done at Fonderie Deberny & Peignot. The 1960’s work was at Olivetti. His poster Nord Express (1927) (Acier Noir really) inspired Nick Curtis to draw Nord Express NF.

 

Cassandre (1968), the type that bears his name, was largely unfinished, after having been turned down by Berthold and Olivetti (and was possibly the cause of his suicide). It was finished in a revival of sorts by Thierry Puyfoulhoux (2003).

 
 

Bifur typeface

 
 

Acier Noir typeface

 
 

Cassandre typeface

 
 

Peignot typeface

 
 

Typographic design for YSL logo

 
 

Alternate version of YSL logo design

 
 

If there is a continuum in Cassandre’s work, it lies in his command of the full spectrum of visual styles. Cassandre, from 1923 to 1939, was a bridge between the modern fine arts and their contemporary application. His pictorial approach embraced all styles, ever discriminating that it was the spirit he consumed and not the corpus. The filtering force was Cassandre’s extraordinary intellect, the inordinate appropriateness and selectivity of his personal vision. Scanning his posters, we see and feel the aura of surrealism, constructivism, suprematism, cubism and romanticism—the gamut of artistic pluralism. But above all we see Cassandre, his magnetic clarity and faultless grasp of the theatrical moment. The direct aim of his mind and hand is expressed in one of his guiding dicta, “Know what to do and learn how to do it.” He almost makes it sound easy, but Cassandre looked upon himself and his craft with straightforward surgical accuracy in his description of the poster artist: “Poster work demands of the painter complete renunciation. He cannot express himself that way; even if he could, he has no right to do so. Painting is a self-sufficient proposition. Not so the poster. A means, a shortcut between trade and the prospective buyer. A kind of telegraph. The poster artist is an operator; he does not issue a message, he merely passes it on. Not one asks for his opinion. He is only expected to establish a connection—clear, powerful, accurate.”

 

Cassandre, if not disenchanted, was hardly enthusiastic about poster design as practiced in the United States, and as result, he returned to Paris. In the thirties, two earlier events began to exert great influence on his career. One was the tragic death in 1934 of his friend and colleague Maurice Moyrand, who with Charles Loupot and Cassandre had formed Alliance Graphique, their own advertising agency. The depth of this loss can only be surmised in the pained terseness of Cassandre’s notes: “1926 met Moyrand. 1934 Moyrand’s death.” In 1934, too, Cassandre produced his first stage design, creating the sets and costumes for Giraudoux’s “Amphytryon 38.” That seed flowered into full bloom shortly after he came back to his beloved Paris. Shortly thereafter, the heavy fog of war was beginning to envelop France. Cassandre, the giant of modern poster design, was never again to favor the world with a product of that side of his genius. After brief military service, Cassandre devoted himself undeviatingly to new conquests in the theatre. He designed productions for the full scope of the French theatre and even designed an open-air theatre in Aix-en-Provence, as well as the entire production. In this milieu, Cassandre turned to a lyrical, richly patterned romanticism, the very opposite of the brilliant color, incandescent conception, and lean accuracy of his famous posters.

 

With the onset of World War II, Cassandre served in the French army until the fall of France. His business long gone, he survived by creating stage sets and costumes for the theatre, something he had dabbled in during the 1930s. After the war, he continued this line of work while also returning to easel painting. In 1963, he designed the well-known Yves Saint-Laurent logo. Cassandre died in Paris on June 17, 1968, during the time of the great French student riots. All too sadly.