Moscow: Selkhozgiz, 1930.  pp + 4 pp. of instruction. 21,7x14,7 cm. 1 of 75000 copies printed. Original illustrated publisher’s wrappers. Fine condition.
The interesting and unknown to scholars example of the book constructivism ‘in action’ as applied to the usual advertising brochure for the subscribers of the agricultural magazines.
According to the principles of LEF, the art in the 1920s became the function of life, the function that was there to transform the viewer/receiver and influence him directly. The whole idea of productive arts corresponded with this - as the art had to be applied for the good of the individual and the society in general. That’s why Rodchenko and Klutsis in the 1920s have taken their productive ideas to posters and advertising to connect with the masses of the audience.
Because of the short life of constructivism in Soviet art, especially in book art, there’s this idea that in the printed form constructivism never managed to reach the mass public, that it was supposed to reach by design - most of the iconic constructivist books have been either collections of poetry (like ‘For The Voice’) or official photo-books, in both these examples the print-runs were low and the art never reached the proletarian or the worker himself.
However, there were different type of constructivist books: the ones we know little to nothing up to this day, because despite the substantial print-runs, they often didn’t survive to this day because of the ephemeral nature of these publications and the fact that their readers never cared for them at all and the books were bound to be thrown (or even smoked) away.
This brochure was designed by Mikhail Bulanov (1894-1965), a famous Soviet artist and designer, known for his work for ROSTA posters, Mosselprom, the Moscow Circus, and many other companies. He stood at the origins of the Soviet art of advertising.
Bulanov is best-known as a poster designer in 1920s, his posters advertising the goods of New Economic Policy are widely known, while also at the same time he has designed a lot of shop windows in Moscow in 1930s. Of those we have little documentation remaining.
We could presume that by designing this brochure Bulanov was left without his usual visual components like images, figures of people and goods advertised and at his disposal were only the fonts, typographical elements and composition of the text on the page. Voluntarily or involuntarily he was left with only constructivist toolbox (according to Alexei Gan, the book designer doesn’t need illustrations and could find all he needs within the typography itself)
Without a single illustration in this brochure, Bulanov has created unique designs for each periodical advertised. Selkhozgiz was the leading publisher of agricultural media at the time and all 13 magazines that the publisher was producing are represented in Bulanov’s catalogue.
Using job printing, variation of fonts, geometrical elements in the layout, Bulanov managed to create a new look for such periodicals as ’Sad I Ogorod’, ‘Novaya Derevnia’, ‘Vestnik krolikovodstva’ etc. One last page is dedicated to ‘Selkhozgiz’ itself with one of the most neat examples of constructivist layouts imaginable.
The brochure is accompanied by the 4 page leaflet on the rules of distribution of the editions.
In the late 1930s, when the fight against formalism in art made such printed experiments impossible, Bulanov moved to circus design in Moscow and Chelyabinsk, but also worked in street advertising design throughout his life.
Not in the Worldcat.