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Blaise Cendrars: Exhibition

Au coeur des arts

Blaise Cendrars (1887–1961) is considered as the ultimate writer of adventures and travels in the french literature. Just few people know he was also one of the great adventurers of modern art. Amongst the thousand life stories he has told, the least extraordinary were not those he dedicated to painting, music, cinema, graphic design, ballet, advertising or African art. This well kept secret has remained for years, mostly because Cendrars always preferred the excitement and fire of new beginnings to patient developments.

Each of the twelve sections of the exhibition is tied to one of the successive or parallel lives of Blaise Cendrars: first of all we meet a young writer in the process of learning, tormented and haunted by Symbolism. In order to tell his story of travel and exile, he invented a new lyricism and revolutionised the art of the book with Sonia Delaunay. A prolific poet, his “elastic poems” appeared in avant-garde journals all over Europe. They enter in a dialogue with the works of Chagall, Robert Delaunay, La Fresnaye or Modigliani. Following the trauma of war, in which he enlisted as a volunteer; he returned in 1915 with his right arm amputated. Yet like a phoenix he rose again, this time a “left handed writer”, the prophet of a “profound today” in which the magic of primitive art and the wonders of the modern world coexist.

Always one to pick up on new trends, Blaise Cendrars became an elusive actor of the art world, a catalyst for talents and ideas that seemed to wait for him alone to bring them out into the light. He dreamt of music with Honegger, Milhaud, Satie and Stravinsky, of cinema with Fernand Léger and Abel Gance, even of advertising and typography with poster designer Cassandre, to a new metamorphosis of the writer into an author of memoirs, transfigured in “the dark room of imagination”.

The custom font is a reinterpretation of the stencil characters used by Fernand Léger in the Cendrars’ books he designed over the the years, and of the Art Deco typographic work of Cendrars’s fellow designer Cassandre.

Regla Bold

Regla Bold

Regla Bold custom alternates

Regla Bold custom alternates

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The constructions of the exhibition architecture are based on expressionists shapes and structures found within the exhibition material.

 

Overall floorplan

Overall floorplan

 

Based on Léger’s palette, the 4-colors-scheme is a very prominent element of the exhibition architecture, providing a rhythm and visual structure, and facilitating the identification of each of the 14 sections.

The color stripes’ principle refer to the newly built part of the museum’s architecture.

 

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Images: Angélique Stehli

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Images: Angélique Stehli

Images: Angélique Stehli

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