Mallarmé, Picasso and the aesthetic of the newspaper

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6 Citations (Scopus)


In ‘Crise de vers’ (1897), Mallarmé wrote that the act of composing poetry ‘consiste à voir soudain qu'une idee se fractionne en un nombre de motifs egaux par valeur et à les grouper’.1 This principle of fragmentation and unity is embodied in the typographical arrangement of his 1897 poem ‘Un coup de Dés jamais n'abolira le Hasard’2 much as it is in the assemblage of paper fragments in Picasso's 1912 papiers collés. Organized across the double spread of the page, words and phrases in ‘Un coup de Des’ belong simultaneously to different syntactic groups.3 The title, integrated into the main body of the text, and the surrounding white with which it interacts, are equally important components of the poem. The final line, ‘Toute Pensée émet un Coup de Des’, brings the work full circle so that the battle between chance and structure can begin again. In Picasso's Guitare, partition, verre (November 1912) (figure I), various shapes, including a square of sheet music, a news report, and a double curve of imitation wood grain are brought together to create the outline of the instrument. The negative space formed by the arrangement of these components suggests the body of the guitar, while its white sound hole is glued onto the paper support, instituting a play between figure and ground. Like the fragmented layout and multi-directional syntax of Mallarmé's poem, the conjunction of dis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-303
Number of pages11
JournalWord & Image
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


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