Moscow: Institut izobrazitel’noi statistiki sov. str-va i khoz-va TsUNKhU Gosplana SSSR, 1938.  leaves (including fold-out and small format): ill. 34,5x34,5 cm. In original blue cloth with blind lettering and blind embossed images of the Kremlin tower and the Palace of Soviets on the front cover. Illustrated endpapers. Very good, spine and covers slightly restored, block weakened, light soiling of pages, few tears of leaves.
First and only edition. One of 5,500 copies.
The most grandiose Soviet photobook dedicated to ambitious (realized and unfinished) projects in the urban development of Moscow.
The layout was created by Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova. Apart from the splendid duo, an indefinite but certainly a large number of contributors was involved in the production of this masterpiece. The materials were selected by T. Gil’denblat and E. Neiman. The photographs were taken by Boldyrev, E. Langman, G. Petrusov, Ia. Khalip, G. Zel’m, et al. Data visualization was provided by employees of the Izostat Institute, supervised by N. Kurganov. The binding and endpapers were designed by the artists N. Zhukov and S. Kovan’ko. The text was written by Viktor Shklovskii. Above all mentioned, the photobook was produced at four printing shops in Moscow and Kyiv because of the different printing techniques and sorts of paper used.
The photobook was announced in the magazine Sovetskoye foto [i.e. Soviet Photo] in 1936. It was put into production in July 1937 and came out in 1938. The design of the photobook was more complex, dynamic, and elaborate in structure than the layout of the photobook The Red Army that Rodchenko and Stepanova prepared concurrently with Moskva rekonstruiruetsia.
In the binding design, the creators used different cloth of three colors but kept the same image on the front cover – a circle with embossed icons of the Palace of Soviets and one of the Kremlin towers. The spine design features an embossed icon of the Spasskaya Tower, the back cover shows the blind debossed logo of the Izostat Institute. The endpapers are illustrated with an illuminated tourist ship going along a wall of the Kremlin at dusk.
The edition is divided into sections primarily related to the great projects of the time: the Moscow Metro, the Moscow-Volga Canal, the Southwestern district, the railway system, landscaping, etc. The reconstruction affected urban planning, green zones, street views, transport, housing construction, civil architecture, water and power supplies, everyday life and cultural activities, etc.
The edition contains leaves of various formats, inserts, pop-up objects, and fold-outs. The panoramic pictures of squares and avenues are printed on fold-out leaves. Some of them are half-height strips, resembling streets with rushing buses and bustling pedestrians. One of such strips features lines of trams passing through a crowded intersection. Thanks to the Izvestia building (constructed in 1927), the place is recognizable: now it is the intersection of Tverskaya street with the Tverskoy and Strastnoy boulevards. We may see how the streets in the photograph were changed. The tram lines were altered with wide boulevards. Some two-storey pre-revolutionary houses were demolished to widen Gorky (Tverskaya) street. Additionally, a fragment of a district plan demonstrates the changes in different colors, while a scheme accurately proves the words about the new width of Gorky street, comparing the number of vehicles that could pass on the street before and after the reconstruction.
Through a round cut-out window covered by a flap, anyone could look back and compare the view of the contemporary Kolkhoznaia Square and the old Sukharevka market that was there before. Another pop-up object is a window to a new apartment house. It is made as two miniature fold-outs that open up the inner view of several rooms of a workers’ family.
The construction of the Moscow-Volga Canal helped regulate the river’s water level, which dropped significantly every summer. Photographs showcase tourist ships and constructions built along the canal. The impressive data visualization displays the increase in the water supply. In regard to watering the city, the General Plan was implemented partially. Some schemes showcase the 1930s plans for a new Moscow water system with the indication of the North, Dorogomilovo, and Andreev canals (unreleased).
Particular attention is paid to housing construction in Moscow. The book contains perspectives of a highway for the Southwestern District, a planned tunnel through Lenin Hills (with the original landscape preserved), and colored schemes of new city districts. Changes in streets and residential areas are documented throughout the book.
The chief organization that produced this edition was the All-Union Institute of Pictorial Statistics of Soviet Construction and Economy (IZOSTAT). The Institute created an immense amount of visual statistics, schemes, plans, and diagrams related to the reconstruction. In particular, the materials produced by the organization displayed the growth in water consumption, improvement of sewerage and street lighting, increase in the number of trams, trolleys, buses, construction of power stations, hospitals, kindergartens, schools, movie theaters, etc. The photobook is also illustrated with architectural designs, including projects by I. Golosov and D. Chechulin. Yet, the major project was introduced as colorful as the real buildings. The Soviet Union had no doubts that the Palace of Soviets would be finished according to the plan. Its image was frequently included in pre-WWII Soviet editions as an obvious component of the Moscow architecture. Some charts of this edition indicate Moscow by the Palace of Soviets as the key sight.
In all, the printer’s masterpiece of that time and an essential source of information on Stalin’s transformation of Moscow.
Karasik, M. The Soviet Photobook, 1920-1941. P. 252.
Worldcat shows paper copies located in LoC, Columbia, Yale, Chicago, Michigan, Syracuse Universities, and Art Institute of Chicago.