Kiev: Melukhe farlag, 1921. 14,  pp., 12 pl.: ill.
13x9 cm. In publisher’s illustrated wrappers. Very good, restoration of the wrappers,
handwritten captions on plates in Russian (ink).
First and only edition. One of 2500 copies. Very rare.
The Kultur Lige (i.e. Culture League) was a secular socialist Jewish
organization associated with the Jewish Labour Bund, established in Kiev in 1918,
whose aim was to promote Yiddish language literature, theater and culture. Kiev at
that time was considered one of the most important centers of Jewish culture. The
unprecedented concentration of Jewish creative forces, intellectuals and cultural
figures in this city created an amazing opportunity to implement the most ambitious
plans for cultural construction. Soon, branches of the art section appeared in Moscow,
Riga, Warsaw and Vitebsk, and its active participants were Marc Chagall, El Lissitzky,
Boris Aronson, Marc Epstein, Nathan Altman, Robert Falk, Solomon Nikritin, Isaac Ben
Ryback, David Shterenberg and many other masters whose work is now rightfully
considered a classic of the 20th century. Artists like Ryback and Lissitzky tried to
develop a distinctively Jewish form of modernism in which abstract forms would be
used as a means of expressing and disseminating popular culture. In the second half of
1920, the Central Committee of the Kultur Lige was dissolved by the Soviets, and in its
place, an Organizational Bureau was created, almost entirely composed of communists.
Most of its educational institutions were nationalized, and by 1922, its branches were
turned into an appendage of the Soviet bureaucratic bodies, led by the communists.
Formally, the Culture League existed until 1924. The fates of many members of the
Culture League, remaining in the USSR, were tragic.
Iosif Chaikov’s (1888-1979) life wasn’t tragic thought, his story is different.
He was a Ukrainian Jewish sculptor, graphic designer and teacher, active both before
the revolution and as a Soviet artist. After studying in Paris from 1910 till 1914 he
returned to Kiev where together with Lissitzky and others formed the Kultur Lige.
He led sculpture classes there, supervised a children’s art studio and illustrated
children’s books, and in post-revolutionary Kiev focused on billboards and agitational
propaganda. In 1920, Chaikov was one of the initiators and participants of the First
Jewish art exhibition organized by the Kultur Lige in Kiev. In 1921 he published the
Yiddish-language book “Skulptur”, advocating avant-garde sculpture as a contribution
to new Jewish art. This book was also the first book on sculpture to be published
in Yiddish. Here, in the book, one can find his cubist experiments to which he was
devoted later in Moscow where he taught at VKhUTEMAS.
In 1932, after the end of the period of artistic freedom, all of these cubists
turned back to Socialist Realism and produced more classically styled work. (Wikipedia)
Worldcat locates copies at Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, Yale University Library, McGill
University Library (Canada), National Library of Israel.
Price: $3,500.00Status: On Hold