Moscow: Izogiz, 1933. 235,  pp. 17,5x20 cm. In original cardboards with renewed spine and modern slipcase duplicating binding. No dust jacket. Covers restored and slightly worn, lower edge of front cover faded, light soiling of some pages, Soviet bookstore stamps on back flyleaf. Otherwise very good.
First edition. One of 5000 copies.
Text and photographs by Jewish journalist Ilya Ehrenburg (1891-1967) mostly living in emigration at that time. In contrast to the book by Kusikov, this edition is a project that El Lissitzky made for an emigre but released in the Soviet Union. Earlier, their well-known collaboration took place in Berlin in 1922. Together, Lissitzky and Ehrenburg published the international modernist magazine ‘Veshch’ [Object] of two issues. A whole period of the life and work of Ilya Ehrenburg is associated with Paris. He first arrived in France in 1908 and had lived there until the Russian February revolution. Then he witnessed the October revolution and the Civil War, was arrested in Soviet Moscow and managed to leave the country in 1921. In the early 1920s, Ehrenburg turned up in the center of Russian emigration, Berlin, but headed to France again in 1924.
In 1931, Ehrenburg filmed on Paris streets. He explained in this edition: “The writer realizes that in order to see people, you yourself must remain invisible. A camera disperses a crowd like a muzzle of a revolver. <…> For many months I wandered around Paris with a small camera. People were sometimes surprised: why am I taking pictures of a fence or a pavement? They didn’t know I was filming them. This is an extremely tricky device. Its affectionate name is Leica. Leica has a side viewfinder. It is built on the principle of a periscope. I shot at a 45 degree angle”.
It is a social reporting of daily life of Paris in the early 1930s. It contains an abundance of photographs. People were photographed at doors and in cafes, at work and at rest, in their poverty and dignity, and then were described in brief texts. The book contains 32 thematic sections: Benches, Elderly Women, Abbots, Prisons, Stores, Funerals, Lovers, etc. Relations between the Soviet authorities and Ehrenburg didn’t turn into absolute plus, but the USSR benefited from using the name of a major journalist for the purposes of pro-Soviet propaganda abroad. In the 1920s, Ehrenburg visited the Soviet country twice and did it again in 1932, to overview gigantic construction sites. In the early 1930s, he softened his attitude towards the USSR because faith in a happy future appeared. In 1933, this edition was released.
Copies are located in Harvard, Yale, California, Princeton, Cornell, Syracuse, Chicago, North Carolina, Florida Universities, Getty Institute, Amherst College, NYPL, National Gallery of Art, George Eastman Museum, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, LACMA.