Margit Rowell, Deborah Wye: The Russian Avant-Garde Book, 1910-1934 (2002–) [English, Spanish]

17 September 2016, dusan

“Russian avant-garde books made between 1900s-30s reflect a vivid and tumultuous period in that nation’s history that had ramifications for art, society, and politics. The early books, with their variously sized pages of coarse paper, illustrations entwined with printed, hand-written, and stamped texts, and provocative covers, were intended to shock academic conventions and bourgeois sensibilities. After the 1917 Revolution, books appeared with optimistic designs and photomontage meant to reach the masses and symbolize a rational, machine-led future. Later books showcased modern Soviet architecture and industry in the service of the government’s agenda.

Major artists adopted the book format during these two decades. They include Natalia Goncharova, El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Olga Rozanova, the Stenberg brothers, Varvara Stepanova, and others. These artists often collaborated with poets, who created their own transrational language to accompany the imaginative illustrations. Three major artistic movements, Futurism, Suprematism, and Constructivism, that developed during this period in painting and sculpture also found their echo in the book format.

This publication accompanied an exhibition of Russian avant-garde books at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Featuring some 300 books, this was the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted exclusively to the illustrated books made during this period. It was prompted by a gift to MoMA of more than 1,000 Russian avant-garde illustrated books from The Judith Rothschild Foundation, New York.”

With essays by Deborah Wye, Nina Gurianova, Jared Ash, Gerald Janecek, and Margit Rowell.

Publisher Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2002
ISBN 0870700073, 9780870700071
304 pages
via MoMA

Reviews: Holland Cotter (NY Times, 2002), Steven Heller (Eye, 2002).
Exh. review: Kristin M. Jones (Frieze, 2002).

Exhibition website
Publisher (incl. installation views)
WorldCat

English: PDF, PDF (2002, 72 MB)
Spanish: PDF, PDF (2003, 74 MB)

Alfred H. Barr, Jr.: Cubism and Abstract Art: Painting, Sculpture, Constructions, Photography, Architecture, Industrial Art, Theatre, Films, Posters, Typography (1936)

16 September 2016, dusan

The catalogue of the first MoMA’s retrospective of modernism, held 2 March-19 April 1936, laid the theoretical foundation of the museum. Its jacket contains a notorious chart of modernist art history, the Diagram of Stylistic Evolution from 1890 until 1935.

“The catalogue remains an important historical document (as does that for Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism). It set abstraction within a formalist framework that—ignoring the intellectual byways of French symbolism, German idealism, and Russian Marxism of the previous thirty years—was shaped by the scientific climate that had started a century before. … The exhibition together with the widespread dissemination of its influential catalogue, established Cubism as the central issue of early modernism, abstraction as the goal.” (Sybil Gordon Kantor, 2003)

The exhibition later traveled to another 7 cities: San Francisco, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Baltimore, Providence, and Grand Rapids.

Publisher Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1936
249 pages
via MoMA

Commentary: Meyer Schapiro (Marxist Quarterly, 1937), Susan Noyes Platt (Art Journal, 1988), Astrit Schmidt Burkhardt (Word & Image, 2000).

Publisher (incl. master checklist and press releases)
WorldCat

PDF (47 MB)

Aleksei Gan: Constructivism (1922–) [RU, EN]

9 June 2016, dusan

Through his co-founding with Varvara Stepanova and Alexander Rodchenko of the First Working Group of Constructivists (1921–4), and his publication of Constructivist principles in his book Konstruktivizm (1922), the Russian designer and art theorist Aleksei Gan played a leading role in the development of the Constructivist aesthetic. In his interpretation of Constructivism, which he saw as the creative counterpart to the socio-political tasks of the Revolution, Gan called for creative activity to be politicized to the maximum and for its artistic component to be minimized. His slogans included “we declare uncompromising war on art” and “death to art”, which he attempted to encapsulate in his designs for portable book kiosks, folding street stalls, exhibition posters and clothing, where the objects were reduced to the most simple and functional forms.

Konstruktivizm [Конструктивизм]
Publisher Tverskoe izdatel’stvo, Tver, Summer 1922
70 pages, 23.5 х 19.9 cm
Edition of 2000
via Andrey Kurilkin

Konstruktivizm (Russian, 1922, 23 MB)
Constructivism (English, trans. of extracts by John Bowlt, 1974)

More about Constructivism and Aleksei Gan.