Moscow: GIKhL, 1932. Item #1581
, 79 pp.: ill. 25х22 сm. In original constructivist cardboards and dust jacket, both with red and black lettering. Dust jacket restored, some stains on covers, some foxing occasionally, otherwise very good.
First edition. One of 3000 copies. The last Mayakovsky’s project he compiled himself.
The book was designed by constructivist artist Varvara Stepanova (1894-1958). She created the unusual edition combining the regular leaves with half-width leaves. The endpapers present Stepanova’s photomontage with the first four lines of Mayakovsky’s ‘Red hedgehog’ (1920), one of the ROSTA Windows’ texts. For this work she used a photograph of Red Army soldier by Boris Ignatovich (1899- 1976), a pioneer of Soviet avant-garde photography in the 1920-1930s, a member of ‘Oktyabr’ art group, who contributed to the magazines ‘Daesh’ and ‘USSR in Construction’.
In 1929, Mayakovsky had developed an idea of this book in connection with the 10th anniversary of the ROSTA Windows (1919- 1922). It was one of the most significant pieces of Soviet propaganda that appeared in the period of Russian Civil War. As Mayakovsky mentioned in the preface: ‘‘it was a record of the most difficult three-year period of the revolutionary struggle, transmitted by patches of colors and the ringing of slogans’’. At that time the hundreds of posters were issued with an immense print run, but only sixteen texts had been published with the involvement of Mayakovsky before ‘Menacing Laughter’. It was the first to gather the brightest works of the ROSTA Windows in book form. This edition was based on the photo album which was preserved by a founder of this poster series Mikhail Cheremnykh (1890-1962). Mayakovsky selected overall 100 texts, including a well-known work ‘The Soviet ABC’, and 36 photographs of posters. Organized this inspiring edition shortly before his death, Mayakovsky had not seen that it was finally printed in 1932.
Worldcat shows copies located in LoC, Princeton, Harvard, Sewanee, Southern Illinois, New York, Miami, Florida Universities, Getty Institute, Amherst College, NYPL.