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Recommended Books - New Books on Russian Avant-garde

New Books on Russian Avant-garde

The following books are recently published (that is in the period of the last several years) or are about to be published, and may be of interest to those who would like to learn more about the Russian Avant-garde Art. Some of them have served as bibliography for part of the material on this website, and are stated in the Bibliography list.

Browse the tabs right and left to chose the Movement you seek. Click on the image to buy or search for more books at the stores. For some books there are more than one store to try.

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General

English

 

Л. Л. Юрова. Русский Авангард в собрании Ярославского художественного музея. Издательство: Северный паломник, 2009 г. Твердый переплет, 168 стр. (Russian Avant-Garde from the Collection Yaroslav Art Museum. "Severny Palomnik", 2009. Hardcover, 168 pages. Russian, English)

The avant-garde art collection in the Yaroslavl Art Museum is not large, about fifty works, and almost all were acquired in the first decade of its existence.

The idea of creating an art gallery has taken hold with the artists even before WWI, but it only began to take real form after the October Revolution. Yaroslavl has suffered greatly in the summer of 1918 from artillery shooting during the white guarde rebellion. Now it has become one of the polygons of new cultural politics and the first among the country's cities to receive emissaries from the center.

 

Moscow & St. Petersburg 1900-1920: Art, Life, & Culture of the Russian Silver Age, by John E. Bowlt. Vendome Press, 2008. Hardcover, 400 pages.

In his special way, Bowlt illuminates the Silver Age of Russian Avant-garde, bringing to light artists of the period who are not the well-known to the public. a highly illustrated volume, with 650 illustrations, 400 in color, including photography and art, ranging from theatre to specific styles. Includes bibliography for further reading.

 

 

Russian

Ольга Ройтенберг. Неужели кто-то вспомнил, что мы были.... Издательство: Галарт, 2008 г. Твердый переплет, 560 стр. (Has Anyone Remembered We Existed? by Olga Roitenberg. Publisher: "Galart", 2008. Hardcover, 560 pages.)

This book familiarizes the reader with a whole generation of artists whose artistic path began in the 1920s. Mostly they have been students of the artists of "leftist" movements of art, and have absorbed into their own art their excitement and lack of compromise... Unjustly forgotten and un-demanded they have for many decades not been included in the official protocols of history of Soviet art. It is not coincidence that the name of the book was taken from the fierce and bitter question asked by a graduate of VKhUTEIN, Elena Rodova: "Has anyone remembered that we existed?"...

(from editorial at Ozon)

 

Л. Л. Юрова. Русский Авангард в собрании Ярославского художественного музея. Издательство: Северный паломник, 2009 г. Твердый переплет, 168 стр. (Russian Avant-Gard from the Collection Yaroslav Art Museum. "Severny Palomnik", 2009. Hardcover, 168 pages. Russian, English)

The avant-gade art collection in the Yaroslavl Art Museum is not large, about fifty works, and almost all were acquired in the first decade of its existence.

The idea of creating an art gallery has taken hold with the artists even before WWI, but it only began to take real form after the October Revolution. Yaroslavl has suffered greatly in the summer of 1918 from artillery shooting during the white guarde rebellion. Now it has become one of the polygons of new cultural politics and the first among the country's cities to receive emissaries from the center.

 

Private Collections

English

 

Vers de nouveaux rivages : L'avant-garde russe dans la collection Costakis de Angeliki Charistou (Auteur), Olga Fota (Auteur), Dimitris Vlassis (Auteur), Jean-Loup Champion (Auteur), Collectif (Auteur). Collection : LIVRE D'ART. Editions Gallimard, 2008. Broché, 221 pages. Français

Another book of colections of Russian Avant-garde Art at George Costakis. French.

 

Porcelain

English

 

News From a Radiant Future: Soviet Porcelain from the Collection of Craig H. and Kay A. Tuber. by Ian Wardropper. Art Inst of Chicago, 2005. Paperback, 96 pages.

In a 1925 article on the post-Revolutionary production of the State Porcelain Factory in Leningrad, the ceramic artist Elena Danko described the factory's wares as "news from a radiant future." This volume is a catalogue of the Art Institute of Chicago's 1992 exhibit of Soviet porcelain from the collection of Craig and Kay Tuber. The essays included in News from a Radiant Future discuss the relationship between Bolshevik propaganda and the state porcelain factory, as well as the larger tradition of Russian imperial ceramics. They also consider porcelain's connection to the Russian folk heritage and specifically to the October Revolution.

 

 

 

Theatre

English

 

Festival of Wonders: Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, by John E. Bowlt (Editor), Zelfira Tregulova (Editor). Skira, 2009. Hardcover, 320 pages.

In May 1909, Sergei Diaghilev astonished the world of dance with his first ballet presentations in Paris that demonstrated an unprecedented combination of vitality and grace, originality, and technical sophistication. This catalogue of over three hundred artworks related to the Saisons Russes between 1909 and 1929 is the official companion to an exhibition in Monte Carlo. The legendary productions are brought to life through stage designs, costumes, paintings, sculptures, photographs, and programs.

The artwork comes from a wide variety of public and private collections, including the Fokine collection in the St. Petersburg Theatre Museum. Diaghilev’s scenic achievements are complemented by a number of contextual paintings, drawings, and other artifacts, which help to define Russia’s cultural renaissance of the first decades of the twentieth century. The documentary section of the catalog contains rich archival material, including letters, photographs, choreographic notes, and memoirs, many published here for the first time. (Amazon editorial review)

 

 

Specific Techniques

English

 

Collage in Russia: XX Century (Hardcover) by David Bernstein. Palace Editions; illustrated edition, 2006. Hardcover, cloth-bound, 288 pages.

The publication includes essays by St. Petersburg and Moscow experts describing the uniqueness of development of collage in Russia and its history in the 20th century. The structure of the book contains the following sections: texture, applications, decoupage, assemblage, "rag paintings", photomontage, reproduction collage, objects and computer collage. The main distinctiveness of the publication is a detailed description of a technique of each work. This is an attempt to show the "formula of author's world-building". Many works are published for the first time. The catalogue is supplemented with biographies of artists. (editorial review from Amazon)

 

Architecture

English

 

The Lost Vanguard: Russian Modernist Architecture 1922-1932 by Richard Pare. Monacelli, 2007. Hardcover, 360 p.

Documents the work of modernist architects in the Soviet Union during the years following the 1917 revolution and civil war. In little more than a decade, some of the most radical buildings of the twentieth century were completed by a small group of architects who developed a new architectural language in support of new social goals of communal life. Rarely published and virtually inaccessible until the collapse of the Soviet regime, these important buildings have remained unknown and unappreciated.

Richard Pare's photographs reveal the powerful forms of these structures, some still in use but many now abandoned and decayed. Massive industrial complexes like the Dnieper River Dam and MoGES, which supplies electricity to the city of Moscow; vast communal houses for workers, including Ginzburg's Narkomfin; commercial buildings and government offices; and smaller clubs and theaters were all built in this brief period.

In an incisive essay, architectural historian Jean-Louis Cohen surveys the history of the period, providing a context for the emergence of this startling new architecture in parallel to contemporary experiments in Europe.

 

 

Russian

 

Ричард Пэр. Потерянный авангард. Русская модернистская архитектура 1922-1932. Фотоальбом. Издательство: Татлин, 2007 г. Суперобложка, 348 стр. (The lost avant-garde. Russian modernist architecture 1922-1932. Photoalbum. By Richard Pare. "Tatlin", 2007. Dust jacket, 348 p.)

Documentary evidence of the creative work of modernist architects in the Soviet Union in the period after the 1917 Revolution and the following civil war. The most radical buildings of the XXth century were built in less than a decade byt a small group of architects, who invented a new architectural language for the new social goals of their modern life.

The book includes 73 buildings, from the Shabolovskaya radio tower in Moscow and up to the Lenin mausoleum. Buildings are presented from Ivenovo, Yekateringurg, Kiev, Kharkov, Zaporozhie, Nizhniy Novgorod, Sochi and Baku. (from editorial review by Ozon)

 

 

"...ism"s

English

 

Russian Futurism, by Yevgenia Petrova (Author). Palace Editions, 2007. Hardcover, 240 p.

The subject of Russian Futurism is familiar only to experts, and based on highly limited material. No other movement appears to have evoked quite the same public response, having, as it does, social roots. Referred to as 'the art of the future' by the Russian press in 1908 - a year before the official appearance of the word - this book focuses on the works of some forty-two artistic 'revolutionaries' featuring vibrant examples of their work, which serve to inspire the imagination. The work of David Burliuk - central and original figure in the Russian Futurist movement - is featured alongside more than 200 colour reproductions of paintings by more than forty Futurists. Accompanied by critical and historical essays, a chronicle of events and artists' biographies. (editorial review from Amazon)

 

The Artist as Producer: Russian Constructivism in Revolution, by Maria Gough. University of California Press, 2005. Hardcover, 268 pages. English.

"The Artist as Producer confronts the problem of making a politics with art. Gough's balanced rigor in mining obscure archives on the one hand, while performing brilliant readings of recalcitrant artworks on the other gives her account of Constructivism's Utopian promise and less-than-Utopian outcome great texture. She has produced something very rare: an art-historical study that not only adds to our knowledge but captures the intense poignancy of modern art's serious ambition to undertake a revolution of--and with--form." (David Joselit, Professor, History of Art, Yale University)

 

Russian Modernism between East and West: Natal'ia Goncharova and the Moscow Avant-Garde by Jane Ashton Sharp. Cambridge University Press, 2006. Hardcover, 360 pages. English.

"A complex and erudite book, providing extensive primary material...The physical qualities of presentation and formal presentation of the text, notes, bibliography, index, and the copious illustrations are exemplary, and the book is a substantial contribution to scholarship on the Russian avant-garde."
(Alison Hilton, Slavic Review)

 

Abstraction in Russia by Yevgenia Petrova. Palace Editions, 2006. Hardcover, 812 pages. English.

Abstraction has long been acknowledged to be one of the key concepts in 20th century art. The artists of the Russian avant-garde, above all Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich, made a leading contribution to the birth and establishment of this exciting movement. This publication is the first attempt to bring together the wide range of materials reflecting the various paths trodden by artists working in non-objective forms in the 20th century. The album is based largely on the classical avant-garde paintings now in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, home to the world's most representative collection of the art of this period. Works created in the second half of the 20th century have also been contributed by the Tretyakov Gallery, many of the artists themselves and several private collectors. Artists of various generations are represented by some 1,200 works in two beautifully designed volumes. (editorial review at Amazon)

 

Poetry, literature

English

 

The Last Soviet Avant-Garde: OBERIU - Fact, Fiction, Metafiction (Cambridge Studies in Russian Literature). By Graham Roberts. Cambridge University Press; 1 edition, 2006. Paperback, 292 pages.

"Roberts' book is noteworthy for its thorough examination and reexamination of the aesthetic theories and practices of OBERIU against the background of Russian literary theories in the first few decades of this century. It is especially valuable for the comparative interested in how those theories anticipate postmodern ones in the West. Roberts writes beautiful informed prose. Roberts' concise, detailed prose...relate to OBERIU ensure an enlightening read." (Canadian Slavonic Papers)

 

Russian Literature, Modernism and the Visual Arts (Cambridge Studies in Russian Literature), by Catriona Kelly, Stephen Lovell. Cambridge University Press; 1 edition, 2008. Paperback, 336 pages.

"The articles of Russian Literature, Modernism and the Visual Arts will be of interest to those who specialize in Russian modernism, and perhaps also to those who teach Russian culture and would like to add to their treatment of the arts during this exciting period...it is a wonderful book that belongs in any university library and that will provide hours of thought-provoking reading and viewing - the many illustrations complement the text as well, as befits a book on this subject." (Slavic and East European Journal)

 

Cinematography

English

 

Dziga Vertov: Defining Documentary Film (KINO - The Russian Cinema). By Jeremy Hicks. I. B. Tauris, 2007. Paperback, 224 pages.

"…the first English-language monograph devoted entirely to the career of Russia’s greatest documentary filmmaker…a valuable contribution to English-language scholarship on early Soviet cinema and an important resource to all those of us who teach the history of Russian or documentary cinema…" (Anthony Anemone, Slavic and East European Journal)

 

Harmony and Dissent: Film and Avant-garde Art Movements in the Early Twentieth Century (Film and Media Studies) by R. Bruce Elder. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2008. Hardcover, 540 pages.

R. Bruce Elder argues that the authors of many of the manifestos that announced in such lively ways the appearance of yet another artistic movement shared a common aspiration: they proposed to reformulate the visual, literary, and performing arts so that they might take on attributes of the cinema. The cinema, Elder argues, became, in the early decades of the twentieth century, a pivotal artistic force around which a remarkable variety and number of aesthetic forms took shape.

To demonstrate this, Elder begins with a wide-ranging discussion that opens up some broad topics concerning modernity’s cognitive (and perceptual) regime, with a view to establishing that a crisis within that regime engendered some peculiar, and highly questionable, epistemological beliefs and enthusiasms. Through this discussion, Elder advances the startling claim that a crisis of cognition precipitated by modernity engendered, by way of response, a peculiar sort of “pneumatic (spiritual) epistemology.” Elder then shows that early ideas of the cinema were strongly influenced by this pneumatic epistemology and uses this conception of the cinema to explain its pivotal role in shaping two key moments in early-twentieth-century art: the quest to bring forth a pure, “objectless” (non-representational) art and Russian Suprematism, Constructivism, and Productivism. (editorial review from Amazon)

 

Music

English

 

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. by Alex Ross. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition, 2007. Hardcover, 640 pages.

Anyone who has ever gamely tried and failed to absorb, enjoy, and - especially - understand he complex works of Schoenberg, Mahler, Strauss, or even Philip Glass will allow themselves a wry smile reading New Yorker music critic Alex Ross's outstanding The Rest Is Noise. Not only does Ross manage to give historical, biographical, and social context to 20th-century pieces both major and minor, he brings the scores alive in language that's accessible and dramatic.

Take Ross's description of Schoenberg's Second Quartet, "in which he hesitates at a crossroads, contemplating various paths forming in front of him. The first movement, written the previous year, still uses a fairly conventional late-Romantic language. The second movement, by contrast, is a hallucinatory Scherzo, unlike any other music at the time. It contains fragments of the folk song 'Ach, du lieber Augustin'--the same tune that held Freudian significance for Mahler. For Schoenberg, the song seems to represent a bygone world disintegrating; the crucial line is 'Alles ist hin' (all is lost). The movement ends in a fearsome sequence of four-note figures, which are made up of fourths separated by a tritone. In them may be discerned traces of the bifurcated scale that begins Salome. But there is no longer a sense of tonalities colliding. Instead, the very concept of a chord is dissolving into a matrix of intervals."

Armed with such a detailed aural roadmap, even a troglodyte--or a heavy metal fan--can explore these pivotal works anew. But it's not all crashing cymbals, honking tubas, and somber Germans stroking their chins. Ross also presents the human dramas (affairs, wars, etc.) behind these sweeping compositions while managing, against the odds, to discuss C-major triads, pentatonic scales, and B-flat dominant sevenths without making our eyes glaze over. And he draws a direct link between the Beatles and Sibelius. It's no surprise that the New York Times named The Rest Is Noise one of the 10 Best Books of 2007. Music nerds have found their most articulate valedictorian. - Kim Hughes (editorial review at Amazon)

 

 

Theory

English

 

Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Gardes. By Martin Puchner. Princeton University Press; annotated edition, 2005. Paperback, 320 pages.

"From Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto down to the avant-garde theatre of the present, the manifesto is, as Martin Puchner demonstrates in this dazzling, brilliantly original, and deeply learned book, 'an act of self-foundation and self-creation,' unique in its exhortation to action, not by means of lofty principles but through its artistic form. In its fusion of the political and the poetic as they coexist in twentieth-century movements from Futurism to Situationism, Poetry of the Revolution is one of the few indispensable studies of the avant-garde. In a very crowded field, it stands out, quite simply, as a classic." (Marjorie Perloff, author of "The Futurist Moment" and "The Vienna Paradox"(

 

 

History

English

 

Political Economy of Socialist Realism by Prof. Evgeny Dobrenko (Author), Jesse M. Savage (Translator). Yale University Press; 1 edition, 2007. Hardcover, 408 pages.

"Unsurpassed in its grasp of Stalinism and Stalinist culture, Dobrenko''s new book makes the convincing theoretical move of turning the categories of Stalinist thought against Stalinist cultural production. Rigorous in interpretation and research, challenging and persuasive."
(William Mills Todd III, Harvard University)

"This book by an internationally celebrated scholar of Soviet culture offers a uniquely rich and convincing account of how Socialist Realism was the pre-determining force in Stalinist discourse, shaping biological sciences and `scientific Communism' as well as glossy magazines, official histories, narrative films, public exhibitions, and advertising. The eccentricities and paradoxes of a country where, as Dobrenko puts it, there was `a single need. The need to provide the spectacle of socialism,' are everywhere on view. This fascinating study will be indispensable reading for anyone interested in Russian culture from the 1930s onwards."
(Catriona Kelly, University of Oxford)

 

 

Soviet Culture and Power: A History in Documents, 1917-1953 (Annals of Communism Series). By Mr. Andrei Artizov (Compiler), Oleg V. Naumov (Compiler), Katerina Clark (Editor), Prof. Evgeny Dobrenko (Editor), Ms Marian Schwartz (Translator). Yale University Press, 2007. Hardcover, 576 pages.

"Joseph Stalin famously described Soviet writers as ''engineers of human souls.'' This remarkable collection of documents, laden with comedy and sheer stupidity as well as calculated repression, chronicles the Bolshevik government''s effort to control all cultural institutions and creative individuals. This is a story of compelling interest not only for Sovietologists but for anyone who wants to know what happens when a government treats culture as a long-term engineering project."
(-Susan Jacoby, author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism)

"Throws a bright light on the party''s torturous dealings with writers and on the inevitable conflict between art and propaganda. Perhaps the book''s biggest surprise is its revelation of Stalin as literary critic. Despite his onerous responsibilities as party chief, dictator and head of state, no detail seems to have been too small for Stalin''s eagle eye-a backhanded compliment if ever there was one to the awesome power of the written word."
(Michael Scammell, author of Solzhenitsyn: A Biography)

 

Individual Artists

English

 

Goncharova by Anthony Parton. Antique Collectors' Club, Ltd. (October 16, 2010). Hardcover: 520 pages. English.

Explores the life and work of the Russian artist and stage designer Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962).

Dr. Anthony Parton is a specialist in Russian avant-garde art of the early-20th century. He is author of Mikhail Larionov and the Russian Avant-garde, editor of Women Artists of Russia's New Age and has contributed many scholarly essays on the subject of Russian modernism to exhibition catalogues, journals and reference works. He is lecturer in the History of Art at Durham University. (editorial at Amazon)

 

Natalia Goncharova: Between Russian Tradition and European Modernism, by Evgenia Iluchina (Author), Alla Chilova (Editor), Beate Kemfert (Editor). Publisher: Hatje Cantz (August 30, 2010). Hardcover: 168 pages. English.

One of the original "amazons of the Russian avant garde," Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962) bequeathed a rich and complex body of work to a culture that has only recently begun to recognize it. Like her contemporary Kazimir Malevich, Goncharova drew inspiration from the folklore and art of her country, producing in her early years very colorful and strongly ornamental paintings, as well as religious works influenced by the Russian icon tradition. In the 1910s, Goncharova began experimenting with Cubism, becoming one of the earliest exponents of modern art in Moscow; in 1917, she settled permanently in Paris, where she designed costumes and sets for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. This publication, the first to provide a full overview of Goncharova's career (including her later, less documented years in Paris) illuminates the trajectory of Goncharova's career, restoring her work to its former prominence. (editorial at Amazon)

 

Malevich: Painting the Absolute by Andrei Nakov (Author). Lund Humphries Pub Ltd (June 15, 2010). Hardcover: 1596 pages. English.

Andrei Nakov's monumental 4-volume study of this prophetic artist is founded on many decades of research in Russia, Western Europe and the US. The author has uncovered many previously unknown documents, and sheds a new light on Malevich's pivotal role in the development of modern art, offering a radically new interpretation of a fascinating artist.

Volume 1: Impressionism and Symbolism are the starting points of the Polish-born Russian painter Kazimir Malevich's avant-garde trajectory...

Volume 2: Starting with Malevich's revolutionary Quadrilateral ('Black Square') of 1915, which his contemporaries experienced as a veritable earthquake...

Volume 3: Introducing Suprematism to the sphere of everyday life, Malevich created highly original architectonic works in the early 1920s...

Volume 4: A prolific writer and fervent polemicist, Malevich wrote throughout his life and produced a vast body of texts... (from editorial at Amazon)

 

Дмитрий Сарабьянов. Иван Пуни. Серия: Художники русской эмиграции. Издательство: Искусство - XXI век, 2007 г. Суперобложка, 376 стр. (Iwan Puni by Dmitry Sarabyanov. Series: Russian Artists in Immigration. Publisher: "Iskusstvo 21s century", 2007. Dust Jacket, 168 pages.)

This book os the first research in our country dedicated to Iwan Puni - one of the masters of Russian Anant-garde. Upon leaving Russia at the end of 1919 he has spent most of his life in Germany and France. However, already in the early Peterburg/Petrograd stage his art has contributed considerably to the development of of modern artistic movements in the first quarter of the 20th century. The artist's art is well-known in the West, his personal exhibitions were held in many countries in Europe and in the USA, many essays and monographs were written about him. At the same time in Russia, the name of Puni was for a long time familiar only to specialists... (editorial at Ozon)

 

Russian

 

Дмитрий Сарабьянов. Иван Пуни. Серия: Художники русской эмиграции. Издательство: Искусство - XXI век, 2007 г. Суперобложка, 376 стр. (Iwan Puni by Dmitry Sarabyanov. Series: Russian Artists in Immigration. Publisher: "Iskusstvo 21s century", 2007. Dust Jacket, 168 pages.)

This book os the first research in our country dedicated to Iwan Puni - one of the masters of Russian Anant-garde. Upon leaving Russia at the end of 1919 he has spent most of his life in Germany and France. However, already in the early Peterburg/Petrograd stage his art has contributed considerably to the development of of modern artistic movements in the first quarter of the 20th century. The artist's art is well-known in the West, his personal exhibitions were held in many countries in Europe and in the USA, many essays and monographs were written about him. At the same time in Russia, the name of Puni was for a long time familiar only to specialists... (editorial at Ozon)

 

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