Alphonse Allais (20 October 1854 – 28 October 1905) was a French writer, humorist and painter.
In 1883 Alphonse Allais exhibited a painting called First Communion of Anaemic Young Girls In The Snow, which was of course a white canvas. Allais’ painting was the companion piece to his Apopleptic Cardinals Picking Tomatos Beside the Red Sea.
He also wrote the earliest known example of a completely silent musical composition. His Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Great Deaf Man of 1897 consists of twenty-four blank measures. It predates the similarly silent but intellectually serious work by John Cage by many years.
Allais also invented the holorhyme, which consists of an entirely homphonous couplet so the two lines sound identical, but mean different things. One of his ran:
Par les bois du djinn où s’entasse de l’effroi,
Parle et bois du gin ou cent tasses de lait froid.
By the genie’s forest where fear abounds
Talk, drink gin, or a hundred cups of cold milk.
Normally found consuming absinthe at café tables, Allais (when sober) wrote over 1600 newspaper and magazine articles, and co-founded a rather special club -The Hydropaths , for those allergic to water.