Our Notes & References
SUPERB EXAMPLE OF THIS ‘MASTERPIECE OF THE RUSSIAN POETIC AVANT-GARDE’ (Johnson 25) INSCRIBED BY ILIAZD TO ANDRE SALMON, a talented man of letters, poet and leading art critic.
In excellent condition, with the rare leaflet loosely inserted. One of only 500 copies, this one num. 317.
Zdanevich dedicated the first edition of this poem in zaum (“transmental” language creation, Russian form of literary Dadaism) to his friend, the Russian painter Mikhail Le Dentu, who died tragically in 1917. The total print-run was around 500 copies, and the collage of the cover was handmade by Naum Granovskii on order.
To compose this multi-voiced poem, which traces a journey to the Underworld, Ilyazd designed brilliant typographic writing, making this work one of the essential books of the Russian avant-garde. Ilyazd used capital letters to indicate accented syllables, hence the Russian title is “lidantIU fAram” – with “faram” indicating the semantic field of light. In his edition, Iliazd used an unprecedented variety of fonts, forming paintings with words. Here, words fold into ornate patterns, turning into poetic portraits; typeset constellations evolve into abstract geometric shapes.
Iliazd used phonetic spelling even for publication details on the title, spelling the Russian name for Paris (‘Parizh’) as ‘parIsh’. Ribemont-Dessaignes, the author of the 1920 Dada manifesto, defines zaum as ‘a language of Russian appearance where words and onomatopoeia are such that they allow to support the meaning of several words of neighbouring sounds […] In the zaum, each word therefore contains more or less supported, several meanings of order and different plans, concrete or abstract, particular or general’.
‘In “lidantIU fAram” Iliazd reached a high point in his development of ludic typography as an integral part of the modern page layout; it was a moment of synthesis and a culminating point in his formal experiments’ (Francoise Le Gris-Bergmann, 37).
Inscribed by Zdanevich to André Salmon (1881-1969), a poet, novelist, and art critic. Born into a family of radical Republicans, he spent 1897-1902 in St Petersburg employed as an assistant in the chancellery of the French consulate, forming alliances in anarchist circles. On his return to France, he became close friends with Picasso and Apollinaire and started an influential art column “Le Courrier des ateliers” with Paris-Journal in 1910. His friendship with Picasso developed into a life-long collaboration: Salmon gave its name to Picasso’s painting Demoiselles d’Avignon, and Picasso’s drawings accompanied Salmon’s book Le Manuscrit trouvé dans un chapeau. In January 1919, exhilarated by the Russian revolution, Salmon completed the epic poem Prikaz (“decree” in Russian). Between 1922-1930, Salmon played a role of counsellor for Parisian arts and letters; his portraits by Picasso, Modigliani, Laurencin, and Survage served as frontispieces for his books. In 1964, he received the Grand Prix for poetry from the French Academy. One of Salmon’s most successful books, La Vie passionnée de Modigliani, was translated into numerous languages and became one of the most frequently quoted biographies of the artist.
Johnson, Artists’ Books in the Modern Era 37; Paris-Moscou 1900-1930 (Paris: 1979), p. 440, no. 277; Rowell and Wye, The Russian Avant-Garde Book 459; Stein, Libri cubisti 30; Isselbacher and Le Gris-Bergmann, Iliazd and the Illustrated Book (New York: MoMA, 1987).