Exhibition "Boris Vian, Always Alive

“Has there ever been a more dashing centenarian?

A centenarian with multiple talents, amazing inspirations and timeless poetry, since his universe, his worlds resonate in us, here and now, and will continue to do so.

Let’s travel to Boris’ Saint-Germain-des-Prés, in the heart of the Deux Magots, a place dear to the Bison Ravi.

This exhibition, beyond a sweet nostalgia, invites us to be as alive as possible, as he knew so well how to be during his parallel lives. Thank you for everything, Boris.

The Boris Vian Cohort


These few words perfectly sum up the spirit of the exhibition dedicated to the “Prince of Saint-Germain-des-Prés”, from March 9 to 23 at Les Deux Magots, in partnership with the wonderful Cohérie Boris Vian. A way to close in beauty several months of events organized in our establishment in order to pay tribute to him, within the framework of the centenary of his birth: evening of the literary summer 2019 conceived around his multiple facets of writer, a number per month of the Jeudis du Jazz to discover or rediscover his repertory of merry and unstoppable songs, or still the sweetened softness ” La Trompinette ” created by Pierre Hermé especially for us.

Here are some of the documents exposed in the Salle des Deux Magots on the occasion of
of ” Boris Vian, toujours Vivant “.

An original poster from 1956 presenting Boris Vian’s musical performance at the time when he no longer played the trumpet because of his heart disease, but where he performed his songs.

A photographic portrait of Boris Vian with his son Patrick from 1947, in their apartment in the Faubourg Poissonnière in Paris.

A program, belonging to Boris Vian, of the one he considers the greatest big band leader, composer, arranger and pianist: Duke Ellington. This last one rocked his adolescence and inspired him the name of the most beautiful character of his work: Chloe. A magnificent tribute paid to the one who will never disappoint him. He met him in 1948 and was moved by him for the rest of his life.

A charcoal and watercolor by Lucien Coutaud who will become a close friend of Boris Vian. This drawing offered to Boris Vian in 1947 shows his favorite instrument, between trumpet and trumpet or “pocket trumpet” in action.

A small part of the original collection of the Journal Jazz Hot in which he wrote from 1948 to 1958 with passion and curiosity, giving a rare and even new tone in these columns and especially in the one of the readers’ letters.

A Zazou poem written in 1944, with a drawing by Michelle Vian’s brother, Claude Léglise.

Six handwritten sheets from the Manual of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and its places and practices.

The exhibition also features first editions of some of his literary works, including:

Vercoquin et le plancton, Boris Vian’s first novel, was published in 1946 by Gallimard under the aegis of Raymond Queneau, who brought him into the Parisian literary circle, as he wished. From now on, Boris Vian hopes to go from engineer to man of letters.

L’écume des jours”, his second novel, published by Gallimard in 1947. This work did not obtain the Prix de La Pléiade in favor of the collection of poems by Abbé Grosjean. This was a major disappointment for Boris Vian and marked the end of his collaboration with the Gallimard publishing house.

L’herbe rouge “, a novel, was published by Toutain in 1950, after many editorial efforts. It is said that this novel is one of the most autobiographical.

Four novels signed under the pseudonym of Vernon Sullivan, an imaginary author whose translator Boris Vian claimed to be : I will spit on your graves ; The dead all have the same skin ; And we’ll kill all the ugly ones ; They do not realize.

The ants “, collection of short stories published in 1949.

Novels by Kenneth Fearing and Peter Cheney, translated by Boris Vian himself.

Three other partners have honored us with their participation in this exhibition :

The INA, which publishes a 33 rpm vinyl record with Diggers Factory, in a limited and numbered edition of 1,000 copies, and exhibits two photos of Boris Vian with the greats of French song (see below).

La Poste, which presents the enlargement of the beautiful stamp with the effigy of Boris published this year by Philaposte.

1st cover of Boris Vian's vinyl Stamp with the effigy of Boris Vian

Grammaj, a print publishing house that has produced two lithographs:

La machine à confesser (edited in 2019), for sale on grammaj. com: the original drawing of La Machine à confesser, done in etching in 1957, still hangs in Boris Vian’s office. He offers us his interpretation of the confessional. It is up to each person to find his or her place, priest, psychoanalyst, executioner, patient, convict or …

The musical chair (published in 2020), on sale on the site grammaj.com : the musical chair is one of Boris Vian’s inventions that have seen the light of day, in fact this chair is still today in his office, Cité Véron. He designed and built it in 1951 because the standard chairs of the 1950’s were not suitable for his large size to play the guitar.

Boris Vian, Marc Doelnitz, Anne Marie Cazalis and Henri Patterson reunited in Juliette Gréco's salon

We warmly thank the Cohérie Boris Vian, which organizes or supervises all the artistic and cultural actions around the work as well as the management of the family and personal heritage of Boris Vian. His Heritage Director Nicole Bertolt has trusted us throughout these festivities, with a communicative passion for his beloved “Bison Ravi” and an expert knowledge of his work that have made this exhibition possible.