Works of Sergey Chekhonin
Avant-Garde Books from Behind the Iron Curtain
The Russian Avant-Garde movement covered art, literature, cinema, sculpture, architecture and political propaganda. It stretched from the final decades of the Czarist regime to the 1930s. Work from this period is easily recognizable thanks to bright colors, geometric shapes and bold lettering.
Symbols of the Russian Revolution and Communism are visible but not universal. There was a time when artists were happy work alongside the state, but that was not always the case. Experimental art from this era can be seen on books, journals, magazines, posters and cinema and theater-related material, although items from the 1920s and earlier can be hard to find. Our selection encompasses poetry, fiction and the work of several illustrators and graphic artists, as well as exhibition catalogs and Western retrospectives of this period and the key artists.
Even with the isolationism practiced by the Soviet regime, the influence of Russian Avant-Garde art spread far beyond the Iron Curtain but actually owning examples was rather difficult. The collapse of the Communist regimes meant more rare items became available to collectors in in the West.
These books stretch far beyond Moscow. For instance, Abedeca (which translates as alphabet) is an example of Czech modernism with Karel Teige’s design and photomontages of dancer Milca Mayerová modeling the letters of the alphabet.
Constructivism is one of the sub-groups of Russian Avant-Garde and features prominently in these books along with futurism and suprematism. We recommend browsing the inventories of four booksellers who have strong selections of Russian avant-garde art and literature - Marijana Dworski, Michael Fagan Fine Art & Rare Books, Books You Want and Shapero Rare Books.
Avant-Garde Books from Russian & Eastern Europe
by Velemir Khlebnikov
1922 first edition of 2,000 copies printed in Moscow. Poems from a key Russian futurist.
Russian avant-garde poetry from Ilya Zdanevich
A rare journal of Polish avant-garde published in Krakow.
Edgar Dega i ego iskusstvo
by Iakov Tugendholt
A 1922 interpretation of Degas and his art by a prominent Soviet art critic
by Karel Teige
Teige was a major figure of the Czech avant-garde movement Devetsil in the 1920s.
by El Lissitsky
Lissitzky was an artist and typographer who helped develop suprematism and also Soviet propaganda.
by Wassily Kandinsky
Kandinsky was an influential Russian painter and art theorist, who taught at the Bauhaus.
by Samuil Marshak
Marshak was a Russian writer, translator and poet – he wasn’t avant-garde but some of his book illustrations were.
by Vladimir Mayakovsky
Mayakovsky was an influential Soviet poet and playwright, who also developed propaganda imagery.
by Kazimir Malevich
A Ukrainian artist who specialized geometric abstract art and founded the Suprematist movement.
by Alexander Archipenko
A Ukrainian avant-garde artist who attended the Kiev Art School before moving to France.
by Joseph Stalin
“On Lenin” by the man who became dictator of the Soviet Union.
Various Books Illustrated
by Boris Titov
A well known illustrator and graphic artist, Titov was part of the Constructivist art movement.
by Karel Capek
Various editions of this explosive fantasy including the UK edition translated by Lawrence Hyde.
Selection of Soviet movie programs
The cover designs are Constructivist in style. 1924-1928.
Russland: Die Rekonstruktion der Architektur in der Sowjetunion
by El Lissitzky
Published in Vienna in 1930, includes 104 plates of modern avant-garde Russian architecture.
Various rare Yiddish avant-garde publications
Work by artists who studied at the Kultur-Liga Art School in Kiev.
The Great Utopia: The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915-1932
A 732-page exhibition catalog from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
by Christine Lodder
Retrospective reprinted several times with many illustrations.
Russian Avant Garde 1908-1922
by Leonard Hutton-Hutschnecker
Stunning catalog from a 1971 US exhibition, including essays on key artists.
L. S. Popova (1889-1924)
A catalog to the 1989 exhibition of Popova’s work in Moscow.
Russian Avant-Garde Art: The George Costakis Collection
edited by Angelica Zander Rudenstine
1,171 illustrations, a chronology, biographies and color plates by the most influential artists.
Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism
by Christina Kiaer
An investigation of the Russian Constructivist ideal that objects were not commodities.
Power to the People: Early Soviet Propaganda Posters
by Alex Ward
Many of these images were created by avant-garde poet and artist Vladimir Mayakovsky.
Balieff's Chavue-Souris of Moscow
Elaborate souvenir program illustrated by H. Remisoff Soudeikine.