Guillaume Apollinaire. Calligrammes


Calligrammes, a collection of poems by an outstanding French writer, art critic and poet G. Apollinaire, was first published in 1918, not long before poet`s death. Since then Calligrammes are considered to be among most influential and well-known examples of visual and concrete poetry.

The very term calligramme was coined by Apollinaire to reflect the dual nature of the visual-linguistic phenomenon. The word was masterminded as a combination of basic terms calligraphy and ideogram. As follows, calligramme is a cunningly designed piece of art which consists of both semantic textual elements and pictorial, specially arranged visual shape. Two of them operate as a naturally concrete, highly complex  system. Each part of this complex has its own semantic and semiotic layers responsible for creating unique piece of art and, finally, a profound impression on the reader.

Apollinnaire himself stated that as we are facing the dawn of the new media epoch-it`s no longer acceptable to rely on traditional forms of visual art or poetry taken separately. Instead, he celebrated a synthetic creative method. What a deep and profound insight has he! In other words, creation of Calligrammes collection was an act of challenging long-dreamed artistic idea of a total, inclusive, synthetic art.

Symbols, words and lines organized in intricate forms reflecting the real-life objects make reader to  rethink and reflect on the very essence of objects and notions mentioned. Apollinaire invites reader to participate in creative act of reading and explore new horizons of meaning of every word.

Although the idea of combination of text and pictorial shape is not exclusively avant-garde one, it was Apollinaire who made it so popular and influential in modern culture.

Whether it is a lady-shaped verse or vase-like one, you are very unlikely to stay unimpressed by them. Apparently, Calligrammes is  a perfect example of convergence of both visual and textual art facets.

by Tieriekhova Masha

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