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Phonemes, Graphemes, Dabs of Paint: Roman Jakobson, the Russian avant-garde and the search for the shared basic elements of painting and poetry

Author(s): Hofstede, Bregje

Journal: RIHA Journal
ISSN 2190-3328

Start page: 0037;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Jakobson | Malevich | Chlebnikov | Russian avant-garde | Zaum | phonology | grapheme | faktura | synaesthesia | painting | poetry

The subject of this paper is the supposed affinity between painting and poetry as theorised by the linguist Roman Jakobson who played a crucial role for the Russian avant-garde and its close association of painting and poetry. The paper focuses on Jakobson's relation to the two 1913 manifestos "The Word as Such" and "The Letter as Such", written by the poets Chlebnikov and Kruchenyck, and on Jakobson's own (lost) reply. It calls into question the accuracy of Jakobson's claim of having influcenced the poets' manifestos, and describes what Jakobson considered to be the shared 'core elements' of the visual and literary arts. According to him, they share a visuality, not on the level of the written sign or grapheme, but on a deeper level, visible only to the mind's eye.
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