Fernand Léger (illustrated by
Blaise Cendrars (text by)
Editions de la Sirène; Paris, France
Cendrars’s collaboration with Fernand Léger in La Fin du Monde, Filmée par l’Ange N.-D [The End of the World, Filmed by the Angel N.-D.] was published in 1919 and provides a potent point of comparison with Prose du Transsibérien. In La Fin du Monde, Léger includes fragments of Cendrars’s text as boldly coloured and stencilled block letters, inspired by his interest in street signs and silent movie titles. His dynamic, fractured compositions create a simulation of the moving images of film as the pages of the book are turned (MoMA the Collection 2016).
La Fin du Monde, reflecting a darker sensibility born out of Cendrars’s experiences as a soldier in the French Foreign Legion during the First World War, begins with God seated at his desk, smoking a cigar and signing documents. He visits every conceivable plague upon humankind, all in the name of maximising profits (i.e. souls). Cendrars intended that, after God had destroyed the world, the film would be rewound, so that the story ended at the beginning (Princeton University Art Museum 2013).
Léger uses Cubists approaches to depict the rise in the industrial revolution using photomechanical processes which appear as illustrations in books and journals (MoMA 2017:[SP]). The book was originally intended to be a film but when funding fell through Léger turned the illustrations into a book. Cendrars’s texts are visually reminiscent of and reference ‘street life’.