Moscow: OGIZ, IZOGIZ, 1934.  pp. 34x35 cm. Publisher’s cloth binding. Each illustration is supplied with the tissue paper, all present. Copy from the smaller part of the print run with the publisher’s blank dust wrapper preserved and Stalin’s silhouette printed in silver on the frontispiece and Stalin’s signature printed in silver on the title page. One of 2000 copies.
The book is a dedication copy to arctic explorer and journalist Boris Gromov, who was one of the members on the legendary SS ’Chelyuskin’, crushed and then rescued in the Chukchi Sea in April of 1934. The inscription on the endpaper reads ‘To ‘Chelyuskinets’ comrade Gromov from the collective of IZOGIZ’ signed Boris Malkin (head of the publishing house), also Gromov’s name is embroided on the cloth of the binding.
Extremely rare, especially the copy from the limited part of the edition.
Stalin’s image has heavily influenced Soviet art and this book is a representative summary of the process with some of the best art examples of that influence shown. In fact in the 1930s it was almost impossible to imagine any area of Soviet book art and art in general without the mention of ‘the leader’. However this album proves that the best artists in the Union are capable of creating incredible art despite the ideological pressure.
The book itself is designed by Natalia Pinus (who has designed Stalin’s bass-relief on the front cover on the book) and Gustav Klutsis, arguably one of the most important pre-war Soviet artists, the pioneer of photomontage and one of the ideologists of constructivism in book art. The Soviet book and poster design has been revolutionized by Klutsis and his followers, and he remains one of the best-known Latvian artists worldwide.
The album features works by Klutsis, also poster designer Irakliy Toidze, artwork by Gerasimov, Svarog, Brodskiy, Avilov, Kadrovskiy, Deni, Lishev, Kravchenko, Mikhailovsky, Elkin and Mizin.
As the history went on, three years after creating this powerful panegyric to Stalin, in 1937 Klutsis was arrested and soon executed as a member of anti-government Latvian movement. His name was erased from the Soviet art history and the books and posters designed by him were banned.
The only copy is at Getty Research Institute.