St. Petersburg: Soyuz Molodezhi, 1914. 70,  pp. Original printed wrappers. Tears of the spine, owner’s inscription on the front wrapper (pencil). Otherwise good.
The signature on the front wrapper by Oscar Voltsenburg (1886-1971), a Russian-born German librarian and bibliographer, best known as the head of the Hermitage library from 1932 to 1959. During WWII he was in charge of the evacuation of the library from Leningrad.
The magnum opus of Vladimir Markov (Valdemar Matvejs, 1877-1914), one of the less recognized founders of the Russian avant-garde art. The founding member of ‘Soyuz Molodezhi’, the first Russian avant-garde group, that has brought together Mikhail Larionov, Natalia Goncharova, Vladimir Tatlin, Kazimir Malevich and Olga Rozanova - he was always the ideologist of the movement. In the first two collections of essays of ‘Soyuz Molodezhi’ Markov published his views on principles of the new art. Markov was the link between the new art and the art of the Pacific and Africa - his essays on the art of Easter Island and ‘The Art of the Negroes’ were printed after he had passed away. However his ideas implemented in the Russian primitivism at the time, Malevich in particular spoke highly of Markov as his influence.
In this publication analyzing the ephemeral idea of ‘texture’ Markov tries to sum up his views on the art itself, emphasizing such aspects as ‘the technique of the nature’ in comprising with ‘the technique of the human being’, ‘the love towards the material’, ‘the enslavement of one material to the other’.
He also argues that every artist has inside the two tuning forks - the conscious and unconscious ones and finding the right balance is often the key to a perfect art form.
Although the publication is quite abstract, Markov often notes examples from his beloved topics of the art of Africa and Oceania: on p.30 he argues that the aboriginals of Oceania won’t be able to make the art their ancestors used to make as the tradition is broken because of European interference with the local cultures. On p. 42 he tells the story of how the Maori artist was asked to paint a boat with European paints which he refused to do and painted it with his usual materials - for Markov this is the evidence of the importance of staying with the materials that are familiar to the artist and that represent the tradition.
All in all, for Markov the search for ‘the texture’ in the broadest possible sense of the word is the search for the essence of art, and that search has been interrupted by the European art process of the last centuries, so for him only the futurist and cubist artists of the time were capable of seeing through materials and surfaces to succeed in art making, like the tribal artists of the past have succeeded.
Unfortunately due to his untimely death the same year this publication remained the lengthiest one in Markov’s bibliography.