Moscow: Izogiz, 1933. Item #1139
90,  pp., 33 ill.: ill. 20x14 cm. In original binding, Very good, Soviet bookshop stamps, previous owner’s label and bookplate on the front endpapers.
First edition. Scarce.
This interesting publication offers a unique insight into the Soviet struggle to reorganize art museums.
The book was written by the Soviet art critic and the corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Arts Alexey Fedorov-Davydov (1900-1969) in 1933. In the work, the author examines the history of the art museums in Russia from the late-19th century when the Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III was established in St. Petersburg, until the early-1930s. Fedorov-Davydov draws a sharp contrast between the Imperialistic ‘dungeons’ and the Bolshevik ‘educational hubs’ and criticizes the former for its fetishism and ‘obvious materialism’. The book offers a complex review of different exhibitions, Exhibition of Works of Revolutionary and Soviet Themes (Tretyakov Gallery; 1930), War and Art (Russian Museum; 1930), Experimental Exhibition of a Complex Marxist Exposition (Russian Museum; 1931), Art Exhibition from the Era of Imperialism (Russian Museum; 1931), Complex Exhibition of XVII-XVIII century French Art (Hermitage; 1930), etc., and through a detailed analysis defines primary requirements of the new Soviet museum: expositions based on the method of dialectical materialism; introduction of labeling in the form of inscriptions and explanatory tables; expansion of the exhibits in terms of arts and thematics, etc. Interestingly, the author, who at the time of the publication, was head of the department of new Russian art at the State Tretyakov Gallery (1929-1934), doesn’t refrain from criticizing, among other art museums, the Gallery itself: The very principle of installation was mechanical, unsuitable for the main material and as the basis for its display. It was learned from the «left» formalist cinematography (Kuleshov). Fedorov-Davydov mostly reproves Soviet museums for the weak political message and excessive exhibitionism reflected in constructivist tendencies: IZO installation explaining the petty-bourgeois anarchism of the futurists and illustrating Mayakovsky’s lines is a cheap propaganda device (Art Exhibition from the Era of Imperialism at Russian Museum; 1931).
The edition includes 33 black-and-white illustrations showing Hall of Peter I in the Romanov Gallery of the Winter Palace; State Tretyakov Gallery. Exhibition of revolutionary and Soviet themes. Part of the hall from the reconstruction era. Exposition of Fedorov-Davydov, 1930; Exposition of the Tretyakov Gallery under P. Tretyakov; State Tretyakov Gallery. Exhibition of bourgeois art. Exposition of Fedorov-Davydov, 1931; etc.
Overall, the book represents an interesting overview of both pre-Revolutionary and Soivet art museums and offers a unique insight into the struggle to create a new Bolshevik theatre.
Worldcat shows copies of the edition at Victoria and Albert Museum, Harvard Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Public Library System, Yale University Library, University of Chicago Library, University of Wisconsin - Madison, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of California, Stanford Libraries, Getty Research Institute.
Price: $1,200.00Status: On Hold