Moscow; Leningrad: OGIZ; IZOGIZ, 1932. 145, 2 pp., 1 folding plate.: ills. 25x17 cm. Original illustrated wrappers. Illustrated throughout. Very good.
Extremely rare. One of 5000 copies. The ceramics and porcelain became the important field for mass art in Soviet Russia in the 1920s-30s. It started in the early 1920s when such prominent suprematist artists as Kazimir Malevich and Nikolay Suetin have experimented in this area. Suetin alongside with another Malevich’s student Nikolay Chashnik, have worked at LFZ [Leningrade’s Porcelain Factory] and were carrying Malevich’s abstract ideas into the masses. This was very much in tune with the art leftist ideas of transforming the reality with avant-garde art: in this case the sharpest revolutionary art ideas have made its way to the Soviet kitchens.
However by the early 1930s the situation have changed and the new call for more intense socialistic propaganda was spread. In the times of the fight against the formalists, the tableware, ceramics and porcelain was regarded as the important channel of communication between the state and the Soviet citizen.
The first article of the book by N. Sokolova shows the harsh critics of the abstract tendencies in the design of tableware and also criticises the approach that the production should be cheaper and less artistic. She denies both Malevich and Chekhonin the future influence on the design of ceramics, adding that Chekhonin was never a revolutionary artist, but rather ‘a romantic who viewed the proletariat in an opera-like setting’. The general pathos of the article and the book in the whole is the swift that has to be made from the abstract to the reflection of soviet life in all the aspects (i.e. swift towards the social realism).
Art critic Ignatiy Khvoinik in his article ‘The Commonplace Tendencies in the Soviet Mass Tableware Design’ agrees with Sokolova. In the main text of the book, Filippov analyses the examples of formalism in tableware, including the famous ‘Cattle with a Lid’, designed by Malevich in 1923: ‘visually the artist tried to make it look like a complicated machinery. As a result the cattle is too heavy, hard to use, not hygienic, inconvenient’. Filippov calls for the compromise between the utilitarian-technical means and the ideological needs.
The book is giving the full overview of the problem: alongside with Khvoink’s and Sokolova’s take on the artistic side, the detailed measurements and technical data on different types of tableware is given, including the prototypes of forms, the standards of volume, the advices on the shapes. With many graphics and illustrations, the book ends with a massive blueprint of a cattle (72x83 cm).
The book also gives the detailed overview of the stats for the tableware produced in USSR and the bibliographical list of the books on the subject (including exhibition catalogs, children’s books (even ‘Otkuda Posuda’ by Chichagova sisters)).
Worldcat shows two copies (the only copy in US is in University of Wisconsin).