[EL LISSITZKY AND HIS PHOTOMONTAGES] SSSR na stroike [i.e. USSR in Construction] # 10 for 1932
Moscow: Gos. izdatel’stvo SSSR, 1932. 48 pp.: ill (including 2 folding leaves). 41,5x30 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Spine rubbed, minor tears of spine and edges of covers, pale water stains on inner lower corner throughout copy, minor soiling of lower margin, otherwise very good.
An issue of the striking magazine ‘USSR in Construction’ praising achievements of the Soviet Union in 1930-1941 (and separately in 1949) through gorgeous photomontages of a large format. It was focused primarily on a foreign audience and was supposed to create a positive image of the economic and social transformations taking place in the Soviet Union. This particular issue is dedicated to Dneprostroi, a campaign of construction of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station.
The periodical is regarded as an artistic gem of industrialization years. It attracted the best photographers and artists of that time El Lissitzky, Alexander Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, Roman Karmen, Georgy Petrusov, Boris Ignatovich, Arkady Shaikhet, Evgeny Khaldey, Mark Markov-Grinberg, Max Alpert, Dmitry Debabov, John Hartfield and others. Texts were written by Maxim Gorky, Isaac Babel, Mikhail Koltsov, Eduard Tisse, Sergei Tretyakov, et al. The editorial board included Mikhail Koltsov, Fyodor Konar, Artemy Khalatov, Semyon Uritsky – they were executed in 1933-1940.
From 1932 to 1941, 19 numbers were designed by El Lissitzky (1890-1941). This one features a night view on lighting Dnieper dam on the front cover and contains numerous photomontages on electrification: devices, lines of electric power transmission, the GOELRO plan, parts of the Dnieper HES itself, as well as people, places and processes related to its construction. As a common approach to stress the successes of the USSR, the magazine recalled a visit of Herbert Wells to Russia in 1920 and his words about utopian ideas to electrify the collapsed country he had seen then. Two double-page spreads show a talk of Wells with Lenin, the first edition of the GOELRO plan and departure of Wells from this peasant land. The next pages proved that this was just a start.
The Dneprostroi (or ‘Dniprobud’ in Ukrainian as the front cover credits) was implemented in 1927-1932. The dam was designed by the constructivist architects Viktor Vesnin and Nikolai Kolli; also American specialists under direction of H. Cooper took part in the construction. The dam was called a giant of industrialization and a workers’ town Zaporizhia was declared an exemplary socialist city. It became a tragedy for nature and a triumph for humankind. The DnieproHES stimulated production of Soviet Ukrainian enterprises of heavy industry located in Dnepropetrovsk (now Dnipro), Kryvyi Rih, Donbas, Nikopol (and the issue contains a photomontage about it). After a series of explosions, the river flow and bottom were transformed for the needs of Soviet shipping. In particular, rapids were inundated making the ship route easier.
In all, fascinating propaganda of electrification of the Soviet Union and a good collection of photomontages.
Worldcat shows copies of this issue located in LoC, Princeton University, Getty Institute and Art Institute in Chicago.