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Artist: Pablo Picasso, Spanish, active France, 1881–1973
Artist: Various
Editor: Iliazd (Ilya Zdanevitch)
Printer: Atelier Lacourière et Frélaut, Paris, founded 1929
Publisher: Le Degré 41, Paris, active 20th century

Poésie de mots inconnus (Poetry of Unknown Words)

1949

Book, with sheets folded in 4 with 1 engraving and 2 lithographs

17.8 × 13.3 cm (7 × 5 1/4 in.)
The Ernest C. Steefel Collection of Graphic Art, Gift of Ernest C. Steefel
1958.52.160
Picasso began writing poetry in 1935 and went on to produce hundreds of poems until he stopped writing in 1959. Two of his poems were featured in Poésie de mots inconnus, an anthology of sound, visual, and concrete poetry from 1910 to 1948. The entire book masquerades as an animate object, imploring the reader to “ne coupez pas mes pages” (do not cut my pages). The editor’s instruction to leave Poésie de mots inconnus unbound collapses the distinction between book and art object, inviting the viewer to actively fold, handle, manipulate, and even rearrange the pages at will.
Geography: 
Made in France
Culture: 
Spanish
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Books
Bibliography: 

Susan Greenberg Fisher et al., Picasso and the Allure of Language, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2009), 148, 176–81, 217n.8, no. 22, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.