Moscow: State Art Publishers, 1939. 96 pp.: ill. 40x26 cm. In original full cloth with lettering and design on the front cover and spine. Illustrated endpapers. Slightly soiled, otherwise very good.
First and only edition. Illustrated throughout with photomontages and photographs by Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova.
The album is known to have been produced in tremendous haste. After signing the contract, the designers had just eleven days to submit a mock-up of the album and less than a month to prepare the publication for the printers. More than that, the photo books published for the 1939 New York World’s Fair were without crediting the creators. In this regard, Rodchenko wrote in his diary: “Making books has become completely uninteresting. The last album for the American exhibition was printed without names of designers or photographers. What is that? What pleasure is there in working?” (May 2, 1939).
The title page features an image of a five-pointed star against the sky and this is a collage of a single airplane repeated 85 times. Less elaborate patterns were formed in real life by airplanes during flypasts: they often performed the name of Stalin or the USSR in the sky. The album consists of full- and half-page photographs and montages: the first Soviet machines of the early 1920s and contemporary aircrafts, Arctic flights, military aviation, numerous portraits of pilots, constructors, parachute jumpers - and records they broke. The pictures were compared with film stills and Hollywood advertisements.
This parade edition was a part of a triumphal image created for the Soviet Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The Soviet Union was hardly prepared for the upcoming war but needed to express itself. The album ‘Soviet Aviation’ showcased that the USSR had the modernized air force and might counterattack.
Karasik, M. The Soviet Photobook 1920-1941, p. 470-471.
Worldcat shows copies located in LoC, Princeton, Columbia, Yale, California, Michigan, Stanford, Texas, Harvard, Hawaii, Northwestern, Minnesota, New York, New Mexico, Texas A&M, Denver, Arizona, Sewanee, Carnegie Mellon, Wright, Lewis Universities, Getty Institute, Air Force Academy, Smithsonian Institution, NYPL, Denver, RIT and St Louis Public Libraries, Hagley Museum, Hamilton College.