A-I-Z

Arbeiters-Illustrierte Zeitung, or The Workers’ Illustrated Newspaper, was an Anti-Fascist, Communist newspaper between 1924 and 1933 in Berlin, then later exiled by the Nazis to Prague until about 1938.  First published as Sichel und Hammer, and later as simply A-I-Z, it featured quite striking photographs.  It covered global events relating to the Worker’s plight, as well as fiction, poetry, satire, and sports.  AIZ’s covers famously featured the political photomontages of John Heartfield. Kevin Repp, Beinecke’s Curator of Modern European Books and Manuscripts, has written on Heartfield’s work and Beinecke’s fantastic collection: “Yet much of the dark humor residing in this brilliant series of photomontages resides in allusions to the surrounding texts in this near-complete run of The Workers’ Illustrated Newspaper. Printed on poor quality paper from originals that were nearly all lost in the subsequent devastation [of WW2], these finely executed copperplate photogravures rarely survive in their intended context. Beinecke is proud to have acquired the most complete set known anywhere outside the Heartfield Archive in Berlin.” 

1934, All Fists Clenched into One

September 14, 1933
Goering: Executioner of the Third Reich

Adolf, The Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Tin

Beinecke also has this original tin sign, advertising that A-I-Z is sold on the premises for 20 cents.  Come check it out!

8:27, 1929: Women Workers’ Sports

“Want a price cut? Vote Communist.”

December 1925, Colonial people’s struggle for freedom

July 1924, 5th Congress of the Communist International
Opening of Lenin’s Mausoleum at the Kremlin

Publisher’s page advertising new works

Advertisements

Russian Satirical Magazines–Soviet Style

Buzotër (The Troublemaker), nos. 1-3 (1924), 4-28 (1925), and 1-24 (1926). Three complete years, bound in two volumes, of a heavily illustrated Russian satirical magazine that ran from 1924 to 1928.buzoter-2-edited

buzoter-1-edited

When the first Russian Revolution broke out in 1905, writers and artists leapt at the chance to fill the void opened by the sudden collapse of censorship. No less than 309 new satirical magazines started publication during the brief window of 1905/1906, though most survived only for a few issues before being shut down and (in many cases) their editors being put in prison. The lavish use of color illustration make these underground papers a startling document of the intellectual ferment, but also the artistic sophistication of a milieu that suddenly had the opportunity to express itself boldly and in the public domain. Most of the artists who contributed to this first generation of radical satirical magazines were associated with the revival of Russian arts and internationbuzoter-3-editedal currents of the Symbolist movement, most strongly represented by the Mir Iskusstva group, which was heavily involved in the revolutionary outpouring of art and vitriol. While many of them later avoided association with the Bolshevik revolution and the Bolshevik regime, artists such as Evgenii Evgenievich Lansere, Isaak Izrailevich Brodskii, and Msislav Valerianovich Dobuzhinskii participated in the artistic outpouring after 1917, although by then a younger generation of Futurists, Constructivists, and Suprematists led the charge (at least until they were suppressed under Stalinism and the doctrine of “Socialist Realism.”

Buzotër is a fascinating product of the ecclectic currents at work in the early years of the Soviet Union. The magazine itself displays strong similarities to the satirical magazines of 1905/1906, in format, content, and the strong use of color in bold illustrations not only on the covers but also in between. Yet stylistically, much of the caricature here is inflected through the lens of later movements–Constructivism, Expressionism, and Dada are particularly apparent–and many of its contributors belonged to the younger generation that had declared its independence from Mir Iskusstva and Symbolism already before the First World War. Among the new “Troublemakers” contributing to the magazine were Vladimir Ivanovich Lebedev, Aleksei Radakov, Nikolai Kupreianov, and others.

buzoter-4-edit

For an extensive sampling of complete issues from the first wave of Russian satirical magazines, see our link from the digital library: http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/russiangraphic.html

Bilibin’s Folktales

Ivan Iakovlevich Bilibin, Skazki, 6 vols. (St. Petersburg: Expeditsii Zagotovleniia Gosudarstvennykh Bumag, 1901-1903).

Cover of Skazki, no. 3 (May 18, 1902) Peryshko Finista Iasna-Sokola

Cover of Skazki, no. 3 (May 18, 1902) Peryshko Finista Iasna-Sokola

A complete set of six folktales lavishly illustrated by Ivan Bilibin expands the Beinecke’s holdings of Russian graphic art and, more particularly, thbilibin-skazki-002e Mir Isskustva (World of Art) group. Published in St. Petersburg between 1901 and 1903, the six volumes date from the period just after Bilibin had joined the group, and several of the illustrations in them were displayed at Mir Isskustva exhibitions.Drawing on an ecclectic mix of traditional art forms–the icon, the lubok, Persian miniatures, and medievel book illustration–Bilibin fuses them together with contemporary currents of the late 19th century to create a rigid and highly stylized unity that marks the culmination of the style russe as it was propagated by the “World of Art.”

Bilibin had studied under Il’ia Repin at a private art school founded by Pricess Tenisheva, one of Mir Issustva‘s most important patrons and a fervent supporter of the revival of Russian folk art at the turn of the 20th century. Introduced to the group by Leo Bakst in 1899, Bilibin wrote several important treatises on Northern Russian peasant art of the 17th and 18th centuries.  Yet while enamored of early modern sytles, Bilibin rejected all notions of attempting to revive or recreate them, insisting instead that a new genuinely Russian style could emerge only through direct engagement with modern artistic currents. Here Bilibin took his cue not so much from the English arts and crafts movement of Ruskin and Morris, but instead from the German Kunstgewerbebewegung,

bilibin-skazki-0041

which likewise embraced the modern and emphasized the importance of innovation in graphic design. “[O]nly the Germans, and not the French, understand the art of the book,” Bilibin later wrote, reflecting the lasting influence of his exposure to these currents during an early study visit in Munich before the turn of the century. Like bilibin-skazki-005many others in Mir Isskustva, Bilibin was attracted to stage design as well as book design, and he worked on sets for Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snegouochka in Prague in 1904 and Sergei Diaghilev’s production of Boris Godunov in 1908. When the first Russian Revolution broke out in 1905, Bilibin joined many others from the Mir Isskustva circle in contributing to  the stunningly illustrated satirical magazines that briefly flourished in the absence of censorship After the Revolution was crushed, however, Bilibin returned to a more moderate and anti-political stance. Leaving Petersburg for the Crimea in 1917, he avoided the brung of the Bolshevik revolution, and after a five-year sojourn in Egypt, he settled in Paris in 1925. Bilibin eventually returned to the Soviet Union, however, and he died in Leningrad in 1942.

More of Bilibin’s striking images can be found, alongside those of his Mir Isskustva comrades, in Beinecke’s collection of Russian satirical magazines from the Revolution of 1905. A large portion of the collection has been digitized and is publically available at: http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/russiangraphic.html.

Architectural Fantasies of the “Soviet Piranesi”

Iakov Chernikhov, Architekturnye Fantazii: 101 Kompositsiia v Kraskakh, 101 Architekturnaia Miniatura (Leningrad: Mezhdunarodnaia Kniga, 1933). 102 pp., 101 leaves of color illustrations.

Fantasy #67: Linear Resolution of 3-Dimensional Architectural Rendering in Axiometric Perspective

Fantasy #67: Linear Resolution of 3-Dimensional Architectural Rendering in Axiometric Perspective

Between 1929 and 1933, Iakov Chernikhov published three major works that together compose a vivid documentation of Constructivist architecture in Soviet Russia. It was above all the last of these, Architektura Fantazii, that earned him the reputation of being “the Soviet Piranesi.” Featured here, the color plates at the back of this volume capture the chernikhov-9-editinterplay of architecture, painting, interior and graphic design that was a hallmark not only of Russian Constructivism, but also of many other modernist movements–De Stijl, Bauhaus, Elementarism, to name a few–that likewise strove to integrate the creative arts in a way that would not only reflect the new utopian societies they imagined, but would actually serve as vehicles for their realization as well.

Chernikhov’s bold use of line, color, empty space, and multivalent form seems to blur the distinction between painterly abstraction and  architectuchernikhov-1-editral drawing, much as Lissitzky’s prouns had done a decade or so earlier, but from the other direction. A latecomer to Contstructivism , Chernikhov had himself long been interested in relations between painting and architecture. After graduating from the Odessa School of Art in 1914, he moved to Petersburg, where he initially continued his studies in painting at the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, but in 1916 he switched to architecture and eventually graduated as a certified practicing architect in 1925. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Chernikhov devoted much time to teaching at various Soviet schools, where he focused on providing his students with a necessary introduction to “graphic literacy,” devising courses on “Methods of Depiction,”  “Projection Sketching” and “Projection Drawing” while simultaneously striving to compile an “Encyclopedia of Geometric Drawing” and “A Course on Curves.” The fruits of these efforts appeared in two large textbooks published at the end of the decade, Osnovy Sovremennoi Arkhitektury (Fundamentals of Modern Architecture, 1929-30) and Konstruktsiya Architekturnykh i Mashinnykh Form (The Construction of Architectural and Machine Forms, 1931). But his Architectural Fantasies remain unrivaled as an expression of his vision, inspiring generations of architects in the later twentieth century and beyond.

chernikhov-2-edit2Earlier this year, Beinecke acquired Chernikhov’s first two textbooks (check out the “Uncataloged Acquisitions” search engine on the Beinecke’s homepage), for which the Fantasies now make a fine companion volume as welll as an exquisite addition to the General Modern Collection’s holdings of Russian Constructivism and European avant-garde architecture.