The Russian Avant-Garde Book 1910-1934

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9780870700071: The Russian Avant-Garde Book 1910-1934

Russian avant-garde books made between 1910 and 1934 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. All of the books in the exhibition and this publication are part of a gift to the Museum from The Judith Rothschild Foundation.

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About the Author:

Kasimir Malevich was born in Kiev, Russia in 1878, the eldest of 14 children, four of whom died in childbirth. He claims to have begun exhibiting his work in 1898, but 1905 is his first exhibition on record, a joint show of Moscow and Kursk artists. In 1915 he exhibited his first Suprematist paintings at the 0.10 Last Futurist Exhibition, and continued to produce Suprematist works and manifestos well into the next decade. He held posts at the Vitebsk School of Art, the State Institute of Artistic Culture in Leningrad, the State Institute of the History of the Arts, and the Kiev Institute of Art, and was one of the founders and leaders of UNOVIS. Malevich died in 1935; the site of his ashes is marked by a white cube and a black square.

El Lissitzky was born in 1890 and died in 1941. One of the founders of Constructivism, he created, in addition to his geometric pictorial compositions, placard designs, avant-garde architectural projects and pioneering photographic work.

Born in 1891 in St. Petersburg, Russia, Alexander Rodchenko was a seminal avant-garde figure in revolutionary Russia. His work has been subject of renewed interest and in 1998 The Museum, of Modern Art held a retrospective of his work. The artist died in Moscow in 1956.

Deborah Wye is the Chief Curator in the Department of Prints and illustrated books at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

From Publishers Weekly:

Rare, handmade and handprinted books illustrated by Aleksandr Rodchenko, Marc Chagall, Kazimir Malevich, Varvara Stepanova, Natalia Gonchorova and other revolution-era luminaries are stunningly reproduced in The Russian Avant-Garde Book: 1910-1934. The volume accompanies a spring 2002 exhibition of the same name at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Edited by MoMA guest curator Margit Rowell and MoMA Department of Prints and Illustrated books curator Deborah Wye, the book features revolutionary propaganda pamphlets, futurist broadsheets, children's books and illustrated volumes of the work of Mayakovsky and Walt Whitman, among others.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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(various authors); Deborah Wye; Gerald Janecek; Margit Rowell; Nina Gurianova
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