Kharkiv: Melody rabochiy, 1923. 43 pp.: ill. 25x19 cm. Original illustrated wrapper is glued on the contemporary cardboard binding. The copy used to belong to Central Institute of Labor (CIT) and bears its stamps. Contemporary markings in text. Very good. One of 7500 copies.
First and only edition. Extremely rare. Banned in USSR like all Gastev’s publications. The only copy is at Berlin State Library according to the Worldcat.
One of the key works by the founder of Proletkult, avant-garde poet, revolutionary and labor theoretician Alexei Gastev (1882-1939). When he has found the Central Institute of Labour (CIT) he has famously stated that he has quit poetry, because CIT became his art. He stressed that a human worker was not implementer but a director of a machine tool. This principle was declared by CIT, observing motion of workers and developing practical courses of motion economy in the workplace. This book is a manifest of the new order of labour and new order of culture as seen by Gastev.
The book design is a fine collaboration between Dmitri Moor and Jewish-Ukrainian artist Zinoviy Tolkachiov (1903-1977), who is best known for his etchings depicting Majdanek and Auschwitz, the camps he went through during WWII. However this is the most sterling of his avant-garde book designs: in 1919-20 he has studied in VKHUTEMAS under Konchalovskiy and Osmiorkin in Moscow, after which he has returned to Ukraine where in Kharkiv he has studied in Communist University, producing the illustrations for Svetlov’s and Golodny’s poetry. Tolkachiov has executed Gastev’s portrait for the book in cube-futuristic style, that remains the best-known portrait of the social reformer. Dmitrii Moor has executed the linocut illustration ‘Trenazh’ [i.e. Training], depicting the numerous workers in perspective, leaning over the machines.
The man who in a way has formed the understanding of the new Soviet man and the new way of life in the 1920s, has been arrested and executed in 1938. He was a strong believer in trade unions and didn’t enjoy the growing control of the state in every area of life, all of that brought him closer to the end. All of the mentions of CIT and its creator have been erased from the Soviet history, the books were banned and the methods forgotten.
This particular book has somehow entered the Soviet bookselling market (it has the price on the second endpaper), and survived to this day originally used in CIT in the 1920s.