CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/28/2015
This week, we release Steidl's phenomenal, standard-setting examination of The Soviet Photobook 1920-1941. Collecting more than 150 examples over 636 beautifully designed, generously illustrated and gorgeously printed pages, this volume "only scratches the surface of the U.S.S.R.'s propaganda book production during the decisive years between 1920 and 1941, the year of Nazi Germany's offensive against the Motherland," noted photography collector, curator and designer and editor of this volume Manfred Heiting writes in his Introduction.
ABOVE: The opening spread of Heiting's Introduction.
"Our research not only includes recognized masterpieces," Heiting writes of his collaboration with the book's researcher, co-editor and leader in the field of Russian artist books Mikhail Karasik. "It led to the discovery of many unknown or lesser-known books. Some that we found were complete as published. Others didn't survive in their original form, making it difficult or impossible to find a representative copy. Thus we were forced to ignore or omit certain books, a limitation which helped keep our publication manageable. We selected the books to demonstrate the range of stunning and elaborate productions of propaganda by an emerging industrial power."
ABOVE: A spread from "The Air Force of the Great Homeland," a special aviation issue of Ogoniok magazine designed by Ivan Leistikov and Alexei Levin, 1934.
"The design's graphic presentations are ingenious. All find forms to show a new Soviet Union on the move. High or low vantage points used by the photographers and replicated in the designs of the typographers soar through space to promote an ideology determined to surpass the limitations of time and geography. Versatile and complex printing and binding enhance this, often with only two colors, red and black."
ABOVE: Spreads from "A Pageant of Youth," designed by Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova, 1939.
"The sheer ambition behind these books was unique. It must have been a printer's headache, not to mention a bookbinder's nightmare, and the costs would have been staggering. No capitalist system could have afforded it!"
ABOVE: Spreads from "The Industry of Socialism," a seven volume boxed set, 1935. Top spreads are from volumes 2 and 3, "The Bolsheviks Have Awakened the Natural Riches of the Country" and "Machine-Building - the Key to Reconstruction." Bottom spreads are from volume 4, "Forward and Higher."
Heiting concludes, "The content of the works we have chosen is provocative, even troubling, and at the same time, visually and technically amazing. We hope that our book will not only entertain and delight. We also hope that it will lead to conversations about the lengths to which governments will go to pakage their ideologies and make them utterly irresistible."
ABOVE: Spreads from Alexei Garri and Lev Kassil's "The Ceiling of the World," designed by Yefim Pernikov; photographs by A. Sorokin, 1934.
ABOVE: Spreads from "Rail Transport in the USSR," designed by Nikolai Troshin, 1935.
ABOVE: Spreads from "The Soviet Subtropics," a special issue of Ogoniok magazine, structured and designed by El Lissitzky and Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers, 1934.
Hbk, 10.5 x 11.25 in. / 636 pages / illustrated throughout.
$150.00 free shipping