Moscow: Izogiz: Iskusstvo, 1938. Item #1621
41x30,5 cm. In contemporary binding with original front wrapper of #1 glued above it. Binding rubbed, some fragments of cover paper along spine lost. Otherwise very good.
A year set of the legendary magazine of Soviet photographic propaganda SSSR na stroyke [i.e. USSR in Construction]
The periodical was published from 1930 to 1941 and briefly in 1949. The magazine was aimed primarily at an international audience, especially western left-wing intellectuals and businessmen. SSSR na stroyke was printed in Russian, French, English, and German, and from 1938 in Spanish as well.
The magazine collaborated with some of the most sought-after designers, photographers, writers, and playwrights in the Soviet Union. The 1938 issues were designed by El and Es Lissitsky, Sergei Senkin and Dmitry Moor, Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova, Solomon Telingater, Nikolay Troshin, and Valentina Khodasevich. Maps and schemes were created by Z. Deineka and N. Egorov, pictures were provided by M. Prekhner, G. Petrusov, M. Alpert, N. Kolli, E. Mikulina, and many other photographers of the Soyuzfoto organization that documented the daily life of the country.
The magazine contains splendid photomontages on a variety of topics. Each issue is devoted to a particular theme: Cinematography and Animation (#1), the Moscow-Volga Canal (#2), Kyrgyzstan (#3), Elections for the Supreme Soviet of the USSR (#4), the Far East (#5/6), Rail Transport (#7), Food Industry (#8), MKhAT (#9), Komsomol members in Navy (#10), the capital of the Ukrainian SSR, Kyiv (#11/12).
The issue on the Moscow-Volga Canal (by Rodchenko and Stepanova) opens with a colored scheme of the canal and a folding leaf with pictures showing the non-stop construction process (going at night as well) and workers attending evening courses to acquire technical skills. Many photographs demonstrate showy architecture along the canal and wide-open spaces for river excursions.
Telingater designed the next issue on socialist Kyrgyzstan, underlining the equality of women and men in political and public life and the necessity of preserving traditions and culture alongside newly formed values. Pictures depict Kyrgyz children and women, Stalinist architecture in Frunze (now Bishkek), local institutes classes, and factory work.
The Lissitzky duo designed the issue dedicated to the Far East. The issue opens with a spread insert showing three ways to get to Vladivostok: by airplane like the Chkalov team, repeating voyages of the ‘Chelyuskin’, ‘Sibiryakov’, and ‘Litke’ ships from Arkhangelsk, or taking a train from Moscow. A similar insert features an unusual scheme of natural resources of the Far East: the resources are depicted inside berries growing on a plant above the map of the region. The issue shows pictures of local logging, mining, Sakhalin oil extraction, agriculture, arts, healthcare, and education.
The railway issue was designed by Nikolay Troshin. Following Lissitzky’s methods of visual statistics, he created a double-page photomontage where little red trains connect pictures of Moscow with photographs of Vladivostok, Almaty, Stalinabad (now Dushanbe), Murmansk, and Sevastopol. The issue shows off contemporary Soviet locomotives, railroads, women in the Soviet railway organization, and clubs for rail workers and their sports activities. According to the issue and portraits presented, the railway station Kutuzovo (now a part of Moscow) was served only by female workers. Other photographs depict female workers studying piloting and parachute jumping.
The success of the pre-WWII food industry is showcased in issue #8. It contains a large folding photomontage of employees and data on various food factories built in previous years. The issue also features montages of canned fish, bottles of juice and wine, convenience food, tea plantations, tobacco, and many related photographs.
Worldcat shows all issues in LoC, Houston Museum of Fine Arts; most issues are located in Getty Institute and Claremont Colleges, #5/6 is in Columbia University, #9 is found in MoMA.
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