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Eugène Ionesco. La cantatrice chauve. Gallimard, 1964

“Massin’s design took Ionesco’s atypical dialogue and made it perform in print the way in which professional actors would play the work on stage. Part comic book, part stage direction, Massin’s graphically theatrical experiment used high-contrast photographic illustrations by Henry Cohen to document the characters, and then matched each one with a specific typeface, bringing the dialogue to life with each characterization. The characters become caught up in a battle between hopeless situations, meaningless wordplay, and ongoing cliché (…) The typographic language that Massin created became an underground sensation, and many designers began to mimic its experimental style, which echoed that of Dada and Futurism. Today designers continue to play with typography, but few credit Massin as the first to bring the theater of the absurd to life through typographic form.”

Graphic: 500 designs that matter. London: Phaidon, 2017

“This breakthrough play needed the intervention of a graphic designer capable of reinventing Ionesco's dramatic techniques on the printed page. In 1964, Robert Massin, the art director of Editions Gallimard, took on the project. Acting as 'a sort of stage director', Massin translated 'the atmosphere, the movement, the speeches, and the silences in the play, trying at the same time to convey an idea of duration of time and space on the stage by the simple device of the interplay of images and text.' The unprecedented brilliance of Massin's design can be fully appreciated only when one looks at it in relation to the play's meaning and content. Graphic invention was not an end in itself but grew out of a serious effort to understand and interpret the play.”

Philip B. Meggs. "The bald soprano". In:  Steven Heller, Georgette Ballance, eds. Graphic design history. New York: Allworth Press, 2001 (p. 238)

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