Moscow: Izogiz, 1933. 664 pp.: ill., 16 ills. 26x18 cm. In original full cloth with gilt lettering on the front cover and spine. Slightly rubbed, few ink marks, otherwise very good.
First and only edition. One of 3000 copies. Very rare.
This is the first fundamental work on the art of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1932, gathering all important documents and publications. The book presents three chronological periods - the military communism, periods of recovery and reconstruction - detailing what art groups were established and how the state responded on them.
The book features the manifests of futurist, abstract, productive and social realist art groups, the reports of state organizations and art institutes, publications on the exhibitions. Some black-and-white and colorful illustrations on the separate leaves accompanied the text.
Period after the Revolution was one of the most interesting and intense times in the Russian art history. It would seem that everything was as before: artists united, dispersed, rumbled with manifestos, arranged exhibitions, moved from group to group. However, after the revolution, a new and very active participant appeared in the familiar space – the state. It had the power and many ways to encourage and punish. This was an unusual situation, because before the state was not very interested in artistic ideas. Looking ahead, when in 1932 the state decreed the closure of all artistic associations, it would be a perfectly logical gesture on its part - it is impossible to control what moves and changes. School unions, gathered around the central figures of the old, pre-revolutionary avant-garde, were now completely out of the mainstream. At the same time, the phrase of the critic Abram Efros about the fact that the avant-garde ‘‘became the official art of the new Russia’’, absolutely accurately captured the state of affairs in the early years of the decade. Avant-garde was really influential, but it was another avant-garde, otherwise oriented.
The simplest (although not the most accurate) is to say that the main plot of the 1920s was an active confrontation between avant-garde artists and anti-avant-garde movement gaining strength very quickly. But in the early twenties, avant-garde art was experiencing a crisis itself, without any outside help. In this situation, the concept of industrial art was born. It partly reproduces the utopia of modernity - to transform the world, creating new forms of all that a person faces every day. Everything should be modern and progressive - from clothes to dishes. Art in this case justified its existence: it is applied, even useful. Suprematic and constructivist fabrics, porcelain, clothing, typography, book, poster, and photography — avant-garde artists were now doing all this. These were Lyubov Popova, Varvara Stepanova, Alexander Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, Vladimir Tatlin and many others. The ideological substantiation of industrial art took place in the society LEF (The Left Front of the Arts). On the basis of LEF, an association of contemporary architects (group OCA) arose. LEF was a kind of extreme point on the map of artistic associations of the 1920s.
At the other extreme - AKhRR - the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (later the name is transformed into the Association of Artists of the Revolution and lose one “r”). Between the designated poles the map of the associations of the 1920s resembled artistic nomads. People moved from group to group, there were a lot of these groups, for example, the Society of Moscow Artists, Four Arts, NOZh (New Society of Painters), Makovets, et al. By the second half of the decade, only two main forces remained on the field, opposing each other. But in the future they would have to form features of the “Soviet style” together. This refers to AKhRR and OST - the Easel Society, “the leftmost among the right-wing groups,” as was said about it.
All this in a short form of materials, documents, excerpts, chronology is included in this collection of a very important period of Russian avant-garde with such names as Petrov-Vodkin, Deineka, Klutsis, Pimenov, Mukhina, Lebedev, Chekhonin, Deni, Tatlin, Rodchenko, UNOVIS and Kazemir Malevich, Rozanova, Popova, Larionov, Punin, Filonov, Meyerkhold and others mentioned.
Worldcat locates copies at Getty Research Institute, New York University, Iowa University, Ohio State University, University of Chicago, Princeton University, National Gallery of Art, Binghamton University Libraries, Columbia University, Thomas J. Watson Library (MET), NYPL, Yale.
A few institutions have photocopies.