Wednesday, October 28, 2009

'A Slap in the Face of Public Taste': Russian Avant - Garde Books

Marijana Dworski Books has recently purchased some 200 Russian books from the library of the late Alan Bird (author of 'The History of Russian Painting', 1987). Rather than written content, the main criterion for inclusion of most of the books in the collection was the value of the graphic design - visual rather than literary interest. Within the term 'avant-garde' our scope is quite wide, and we have included here books from Russia's Silver Age, the Futurism of the 1910s, the Constructivism of the 1920s to photomontage and the photography of Rodchenko. The poetry of the Symbolists Blok and Bely is included in specially illustrated editions by prominent avant-garde graphic artists of the time, such as the then notorious poem , 'The Twelve' illustrated as a quarto third edition by Annekov. Chekhonin, a prolific graphic artist, is well represented. Also present is a famous edition of the Kalevala, published in 1933 and illustrated by the school of Filonov (founder of Analytic art). This copy is still in its very scarce lithographed dust-wrapper. Two rare books designed and written by Vladimir Mayakovsky are included as well as a copy of Novy Lef, the avant-garde magazine edited by Mayakovsky with a Rodchenko design to its front cover and early photographs of its inside.

Please see Dworski Books and click on our Russian Avant-Garde catalogue on the lefthand side. We have only catalogued about a quarter of this collection so far but we have photos of all the books and will email more images on request. We welcome your input and questions.

From the top the images shown here are:

1. Vladimir Mayakovsky (written and ills.): Flying Proletarian. Moscow, 1925

2. Aleksandra Ekster (cover illustration): The Art of Degas. Moscow, 1922

3. A. Lentulov (cover illustration): Kamensky, Verse. Moscow 1919.

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