[THEORY OF ART TO THE MASSES] Opyt teorii zhivopisi [i.e. An Experiment in the Theory of Painting]. N. M. Tarabukin.

[THEORY OF ART TO THE MASSES] Opyt teorii zhivopisi [i.e. An Experiment in the Theory of Painting]

Moscow: Vserossiiskii proletkul’t, 1923. Item #523

69, [2] pp. 22x16,5 cm. Original publisher’s covers. Careful restoration of the spine and a couple of margins of the pages, owner’s signature on the t.p. (ink).

First book. First and only edition. One of 3000 copies.
The program theoretical work by art critic Nikolay Tarabukin
(1889-1956), one of the ideologists of Proletkult, who at the time
taught at VKHUTEMAS. Taraburkin is also associated with LEF, he was
one of the theoreticians of the ‘art for the masses’, alongside with Gan
and Chuzhak. Tarabukin wrote several key texts in 1920s that defined
his revolutionary approach towards new art. He as many authors of the
time was searching for understanding of patterns that form the art.
But Tarabukin’s work in this field was capital. He first wrote this book
in 1916. The publisher asked Favorsky to write a review in which he
stated that there were no literature on this subject in Russian. He also
noted as a strong point of the work its integrity, for the sake of which
“the reviewer does not recommend the publisher to change anything in the work”, except for a polemical tone in relation to the problems of
contemporary art. Obviously, this last chapter of the book was written
by Tarabukin at the beginning of the Soviet era (analysis of the cubists
and futurists in the context of the cultural tradition).

Constructivist cover by Mikhail Sokolov (1885-1947). Together
with Tarabukin Sokolov had developed an art school in Tver. They both
were involved in proto-constructivist book design in Tver. Sokolov
combined teaching at the studios in Tver (1920-1922) with his graphic
work. In his drawings, the artist refers to the tools of the avant-garde
movement, cubicized forms and displacement. He was counted as
formalist by critics and had to struggle. In March 1938, Sokolov was
sentenced to seven years in labour camps in Siberia.
Overall Tarabukin’s work should be considered one of the most
important works on theory of art (and leftist art in particular) of the
early Soviet era.

Worldcat locates copies at Getty Research Institute, Harvard Libraries, University of North Carolina, University of Iowa.

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