Kharkiv: Ukrains’kyi robitnyk, 1931. Item #1402
32 pp.: ill. 26x18 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Pale water stains on the outer edge of the first and last leaves, otherwise very good.
One of 10,000 copies. In Ukrainian. Very rare.
An issue of the mass illustrated magazine of cultural life and construction Kul’tfront [i.e. Cultural Front]. The periodical was the organ of the cultural department of VURPS [All-Ukrainian Council of Trade Unions] and was published under different titles: Rabochii club [i.e. Workers’ Club] in 1925-1926, Kul’trabotnik [Cultural Worker] in 1927, Kul’trabitnyk [Cultural Worker] in Ukrainian in 1928-1930, and Kul’tfront [Cultural Front] in 1931-1935.
This issue opens with a small yet notable photomontage, illustrating a poem about the third year of the first five-year plan. The photomontage depicts objects of the construction site, machinery, and workers. Printed on pages, some photographs demonstrate Soviet Ukrainian propaganda decorations created in 1930-1931.
A number of articles is dedicated to Georgian avant-garde theater. “For 13 years of the revolution, apart from the Meyerhold Theater and ‘Berezil,’ not a single theater has been able to show masses on stage like the Tbilisi Theater. This puts it on a par with the most advanced Soviet theaters,” the author Semen Hets wrote about the Rustaveli Theater. He singles out the play Lamari for its national spirit. One photograph depicts a mass scene (A Feast of Khevsurians) from the play, showing the director Sandro Akhmeteli (1886–1937) in the shot. Akhmeteli was a student of Kote Marjanishvili, his first follower, and the pioneer of Georgian avant-garde theater. For 11 years he was the leading director of the Rustaveli theater (1924–1935) and was responsible for creating the theater of “big breath,” distinguished with bold and accessible forms. In this, he was often assisted by various stage designers such as Gamrekeli, Zdanevich, and others (all of them Expressionists). Akhmeteli’s avant-garde approach was incompatible with the official Soviet art of the mid–1930s. As a result, he was fired and a media campaign was launched against him (some examples of which we have in our collection). Akhmeteli was executed in 1937 as an enemy of the state (New Georgian Book Design, P. 283). The issue also illustrates a model for the stage design of Lamari created by Irakli Gamrekeli (1894–1943). The artist was discovered by Kote Marjanishvili (1872–1933) who asked him to create set designs and stage decorations for his productions. Along with Petre Otskheli (1907– 1937), Gamrekeli enriched Georgian theater with a new look and raised it to the standards of the best experimental theaters of the USSR. He was involved in all the avant-garde movements of the 1920s Tbilisi, founding the Georgian wing of the Left Front of the Arts in 1927. In the late 1920s and the early 1930s, he created book designs with strong constructivist traits, even using photomontages (New Georgian Book Design, P. 280). The issue includes illustrations of actors in costumes from the plays Lamari and Anzor.
In the article devoted to contemporary Ukrainian cinematography, O. Varavva analyzes four movies Chorni dni [Black Days] by P. Dolyna (1930), Heneral’na repetytsiia [Full-Dress Rehearsal] by M. Bilins’kyi (1931), Hehemon by N. Shpikovskyi (1931), and Zhyttia v rukakh [Life in One’s Hands] by D. Mar’ian (1930).
Another interesting text is dedicated to the All-Union competition for Taras Shevchenko’s monument in Kharkiv. The article is supplemented with four photographs of unreleased avant-garde projects with the captions: “Brigade,” “Radio,” “5–4,” and “To Taras.” No sculptors are indicated. The ordeal with the monument continued until 1933. The commission of the competition requested to portray a struggle for freedom without national identification and an emphatically unified image of the oppressed. Later, the competition was announced twice more and, finally, the project of the sculptor Matvey Manizer and the architect Iosif Longbard was accepted and built in another location.
Also, one article presents a project of the second Trans– Siberian Railway for industrial needs that “will turn the world economy upside down.” The idea of such a railroad was first put forward in the 1880s. However, it wasn’t brought to life until the 1930s. In 1932, the Communist Party adopted a resolution On the Construction of the Baikal Amur Railway. Control over the construction was transferred to the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. As part of the GULAG system, Bamlag [Baikal-Amur Labor Camp] was formed and operated in 1932– 1938. Almost two-thirds of the route was laid in the permafrost area. A small map supplementing the article indicates the road as “The Great Northern Way,” which passed through a provincial town and the Kotlas railway station.
No copies found in Worldcat.
Kharkiv: Ukrains’kyi robitnyk, 1931. Item #1402