Moscow: Vserossiiskii proletkult, 1925. Item #444
192 pp.; ill. 25x15 cm. In later red cloth with lettering. Without original wrappers, small ink stain on the side edges, otherwise very good.
First and only edition. One of 3000 copies. Very rare. One of this kind of collection.
Proletkult, short for Proletarian Cultural and Educational Organization, was a mass cultural, educational, literary and artistic organization of proletarian self-activity under the People’s Commissariat of Education, which existed from 1917 to 1932. Proletcult was proclaiming the marxist understanding of the class nature of art, and its goal was to produce, present and nurture proletarian art and culture. The organization was seen as leftist and criticized even by Lenin. But
nevertheless it was an organization which was educating workers and supporting poets and writers.
This is a collection of essays on questions of proletarian culture and its ideology, day to day life, art and production of a newly formed country. There is a lot of discourse on ‘byt’ (day to day life), the word ‘bytologia’ even is mentioned, ethics, reflection on a role of culture in day to day life, propaganda and building a new communist man take place.
The almanac could be regarded as one of the important theoretic collections on leftist art, as the key LEF ideologists have contributed to this publication alongside with pioneers of new cinema. Nikolay Chuzhak, Viktor Pertsov, Boris Arvatov, Alexei Gan, Nikolay Tarabukin, Dziga Vertov and Sergei Tretiakov are all involved among others.
Constructivists widely propagandized the technique of photomontage in many articles and books which caused amateur authors actively use it, and this almanac is not an exception. Ideologist of Proletkult Nikolay Tarabukin (1889-1956) wrote a big article on photomontage techniques, how to use it (article is accompanied by two photomontages of poster and advertisement). Aleksei Gan (1887-1942) in his short essay sums up his thought on constructivism and
photomontage in printing concluding with statement that with a help of book ‘Constructivism’, magazine ‘Kino-Fot’, Goskino posters they tried to remind everyone of polygraphic materials and possibilities and push proletariat to be initiative and produce.
Sergey Tretiakov (1892-1937) wrote reviews on American films ‘Star Dust’ and ‘The Birth of a Nation’ but not only crushing them but also praising skillful agitation (‘‘If we don’t have such masters, buy them in America, it would be cheaper than overpaying for never ending self-teaching’’). Dziga Vertov (1896-1954), film pioneer, wrote an article on types of film advertising - impromptu, comical, detective, drama, chronicle, trick, etc. and where and how to place them and most important - what to advertise (‘‘from lottery tickets to ointment for hair growth and back - from tooth powder ‘Sanagri’ to mining industry of Donbass’’). For every type and placement Vertov gives his example.
Viktor Pertsov’s article on ways of verbal and graphic propaganda (space and text of the article used in constructivist way to visualize theories) suggests that they should use more visual means of communicating with Soviet people as they are all new men of a new country.
Almanac also gathered materials about proletkult news in regions and critical reviews (e.g. on works by Sologub, Akhmatova, Zamyatin, Gorky, etc.).
The great combination of important leftist theory applied to the art needs of the masses, clearly unreasonably forgotten book.
Worldcat locates a copy in Library of Congress.