Apollinaire, Guillaume (1880–1918) By Thomson, Tara S.
Guillaume Apollinaire (1880–1918) was a poet, literary and art critic, playwright, novelist, editor, and journalist. Born in Rome to a Polish-Russian mother and an unknown father, Apollinaire’s birth name was Guglielmo Alberto Wladimiro Alessandro Apollinare de Kostrowitzky, though his family called him Wilhelm (the German form of the Italian Guglielmo). After spending his early years moving throughout Monaco, France, Belgium, and Germany, he finally settled in Paris in 1902, adopting the pen name Guillaume Apollinaire. Apollinaire became a prominent cultural figure in Paris and was a key player in the literary and artistic avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century, particularly Cubism and Surrealism.
Apollinaire first gained literary recognition for his poetry collection Alcools (1913) but is best known for inventing calligrams, a form of visual poetry. While Apollinaire was primarily a poet, he earned his living as a journalist and art critic. In his articles and reviews he championed avant-garde art, and was friends with such artists as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.
Apollinaire fought for France in WWI and returned home in 1916 after receiving a head wound. He survived the war but died of Spanish Flu in 1918.