Kitty Maryatt's Recreation of La Prose du Transsibérien, Special Events

Kitty Maryatt, Director Emerita of the Scripps College Press, has re-created the Blaise Cendrars/Sonia Delaunay 1913 publication, La Prose du Transsibérien. Just two of the remarkable distinctions with this edition of 150 are that it includes hand-painted pochoir (stencil) illustrations and the text was printed by letterpress in multiple colors and typefaces.

The 1913 book La Prose du Transsibérien et de lat Petite Jehanne de France was radically different from any other livres de peintre produced at the turn of the century. The format was unprecedented, the poetry, typography and painting were avant-garde, and the imagery was actively integrated with the text. The book was self-published and in control of the makers, unlike the livres d’artistes published by Kahnweiler and Vollard at the time. (excerpt from Maryatt's blog La Prose)

BookArtsLA image of Maryatt's recreation of La Prose

BookArtsLA is pleased to be part of an exciting series of events supporting the Two Hands Press recreation of this amazing book.

  • October 12:  EXHIBITION RECEPTION: Drop Dead Gorgeous: Fine Bindings of La Prose du Transsibérien Re-creation at UCLA.
  • October 26 & 27: WORKSHOP: Introduction to Traditional French Pochoir workshop at BookArtsLA.
  • October 31: FILM: The Re-creation of a Masterpiece: La Prose du Transsibérien. Documentary by Rosylyn Rhee at UCLA.
  • November 2: VIEWING: Viewing of the Getty Research Institute’s copy of La Prose du Transsibérien at the Getty (limited to 20 participants).


DROP DEAD GORGEOUS: Fine Bindings of La Prose du Transsibérien Re-creation
DATES: October 12, 2019 – January 5, 2020
Opening Reception: October 12, 2019, 3:00 – 5:00 pm
UCLA, Library Special Collections, A1713 Charles E. Young Research Library, Los Angeles, California

The remarkable book by poet Blaise Cendrars and artist Sonia Delaunay, La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France, was produced by letterpress and pochoir in 1913. It was a landmark achievement for its time with its unprecedented format, avant-garde typography and abstract imagery, and remains vibrant and modern today.

Kitty Maryatt of Two Hands Press has been researching the production of La Prose du Transsibérien since 2012. In 2018, she debuted a new edition of 150 copies, which faithfully incorporates techniques and methods used in the original. At the same time, Maryatt and her underwriters commissioned fine bindings by notable design binders from around the world. These bindings, along with Maryatt’s La Prose du Transsibérien Re-Creation, have resulted in a traveling exhibition titled DROP DEAD GORGEOUS: Fine Bindings of La Prose du Transsibérien Re-creation.

Opening at the UCLA Library Special Collections, the exhibition will feature the work of twenty design binders, including Colleen Curry (shown above), Don Glaister, Monique Lallier, Midori Kunikata-Cockram and Patricia Owen. Tools, materials, and supplemental material used in the creation of Maryatt’s edition of La Prose will also be on display. The exhibition debuted at the San Francisco Center for the Book on September 6, 2019. Upon closing in Los Angeles in January, 2020, the exhibition travels to Boston, London, Minneapolis and Montréal.

DOCUMENTARY SHOWING: The Re-creation of a Masterpiece: La Prose du Transsibérien by Rosylyn Rhee. Los Angeles, 2019.

DATE: Thursday, October 31, 2019, 3:00–5:00 pm
There will also be time for viewing the exhibit Drop Dead Gorgeous on October 31, 2019, from 2:15-3:00
LOCATION: UCLA, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies
Building, Room 111 and Charles E. Young Library, Special Collections
PRESENTED BY: Documentarian Rosylyn Rhee and Drop Dead Gorgeous Curator Kitty Maryatt

In this documentary, we follow Kitty Maryatt as she produces her re-creation of the gorgeous 1913 book by painter Sonia Delaunay and poet Blaise Cendrars, La Prose du Transsibérien. Unique to its time, the book pushed boundaries of book structure, painted imagery and poetic expression. Using original techniques of letterpress printing and pochoir (stenciling) to reproduce her edition of La Prose, Maryatt develops insight into the creative and conceptual challenges faced by Blaise and Sonia, while attempting to discover why they did not complete their planned edition.

Before viewing the documentary, Maryatt will lead at 2:15 a short tour of the exhibit in the Charles E. Young Library, titled Drop Dead Gorgeous: Fine Bindings for La Prose du Transsibérien Re-creation.
Viewing of the Getty Research Institute’s copy of La Prose du Transsibérien, led by Kitty Maryatt
DATE: November 2, 2019, 2:00 pm (meet in front of GRI at 1:30)
LOCATION: Getty Research Institute, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049
DESCRIPTION: Join Drop Dead Gorgeous curator Kitty Maryatt and the Getty Research Institute’s Head Curator Marcia Reed for this rare opportunity to view the original 1913 copy of La Prose du Transsibérien, created by artist Sonia Delaunay and poet Blaise Cendrars.

Note: reservations are required for this event and seating is limited to 20 people. Email  to reserve your space. State how many people will be in your car. A confirmation will be sent to you by email.

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