rabochii, 1927. 88 pp., 22 leaves with photographs. 35x27 cm. In original illustrated
Сonstructivist cardboards with gilt lettering, in previous owner’s case with an avantgarde
geometric pattern. Boards professionally restored, otherwise near fine.
First and only edition. One of 10 000 copies. Very rare. Banned edition.
The breathtaking designs of the front and back covers present collaboration
of Gustav Klutsis and Sergei Sen’kin (1894-1963), Soviet artist and graphic designer
also famous for his photomontages.
Sen’kin and Klutsis worked together in the 1920s and ’30s on a large number
of agit-prop posters and were trying to open an agit-prop studio at VKhUTEMAS. When
Lenin visited Vkhutemas’s dormitory, Sen’kin had to explain his artwork to him, as Lenin
didn’t understand modern art. He said: «Older artists deceive themselves and others
that they are able to portray. Nobody is able, but we are learning, and our task is to link
art with politics, and we will certainly do it.» Interesting that Klutsis met Lenin when
he first came to Russia as well (he was in Kremlin’s security) and that meeting was
very influential for the artist too.
This work represents their Constructivist and photomontage experiments
and how applicable they were to political and propaganda art. The front cover draws
the viewer’s attention by matching the drawn red flags and the photograph of the
hands of a living man, meaning that the revolution was carried out by individuals.
The back cover design immensely differs from it. The endless human stream, pouring
through the mausoleum, was squeezed into a Z letter; behind them, the red geometric
figures contrast with the black background.
The work clearly expresses the nature of Soviet ideology and what had
happened with the most contributors to this edition later.
The book commemorates the 10th anniversary of October 1917 and
praised 22 Bolsheviks who played a significant role in revolution but died before this
celebration. Each article is supplemented with a portrait. Among the authors are future
victims of the Great Terror: N. Bukharin, Ia. Peters, Ia. Ganetskii, A. Rykov, N. Bryukhanov,
A. Liubovich, M. Frumkin, A. Kamenskii, V. Knorin, O. Pyatnitskii, A Shatman. Klutsis
himself was arrested and executed in 1938. Initially, it was a remarkable collection of
articles written by the prominent party leaders, but it was claimed dangerous during
the Purge. This book was banned and kept in limited access collections until the late
Worldcat shows 5 copies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of
Notre Dame, Art Institute of Chicago, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and
New York Public Library.
MoMA. Russian Avant-Garde Book. #699.
Price: $4,500.00Status: On Hold