Highlights from Jean Vodaine’s Life and Work on the Hundredth Anniversary of His Birth
Keywords:Jean Vodaine, typography, Dire magazine, l’art brut, Slovenian emigrant literature
The article is written on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the poet, typographer, painter, printer, and publisher Jean Vodaine. He was born in Čiginj near Tolmin in Slovenia in 1921 to a working class family, which later moved to Lorraine. In this region, Vodaine began his physical work but also worked as an artist. There, he published the international literary magazine Dire, which brought poets and art lovers together from all over the world. He designed and printed the magazine by hand himself. He gave importance to the typographic design of texts, which makes his magazines all-embracing works of art. The significance of his work lies in the fact that he managed to bring high culture to the culturally underdeveloped region of Lorraine, which was primarily a region of a workers that Vodaine wanted to make a cultural centre. In doing so, he took advantage of its status as a crossroads, where French, German, Luxembourg, Belgian and immigrant influences mingled. He was associated with a circle of l’art brut artists. He is important to Slovenes as a translator and promoter of Slovene poetry in France and beyond. Due to its linguistic and national identity, along with the diversity and quality of artistic creation, his work is still interesting today, although he is relatively unknown in Slovenia. Vodaine was born as a Slovene with Italian citizenship, always considered himself a Slovene, and only in his late adulthood did he acquire French citizenship. Jean Vodaine died in 2006 in France.
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