It was an audacious work of art: appropriating a map-fold format, the book unfurls to over six feet in length, then opens to reveal Delaunay’s abstract forms confronting a poem of more than 400 lines splashed across the right-hand side of the opening. Her preliminary painting was reproduced for the edition with pochoir, a laborious stenciling process. Planned in edition of 150, only slightly more than half were actually produced.
The text is presented in a radical format, printed in several colors in more than two dozen typefaces. Sometimes tethered to the left margin, sometimes to the right, the poem wanders through fields of applied color. Though Cendrars denied it, he may have been influenced by the contemporary typographic experiments of the Italian Futurists—the poem’s layout seems to break all the rules of conventional formatting.