Dance, Music and Theatre

Sergeĭ Aleksandrovich Esenin, 1895-1925.
[Poetry: 1920-1924.]

Moscow and Leningrad: Circle, 1925?

Esenin, called a “peasant poet,” was a friend of Mayakovsky’s who welcomed the revolution with a populist slant. Not a Futurist, he espoused Imaginism, a literary style that favored the image over all other stylistic devices in poetry. In the early 1920s he met and married dancer Isadora Duncan and traveled to the United States. He returned to the Soviet Union without her and led a dissolute existence until his death.


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Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky, 1893-1930.
Publisher’s mark by Iuriĭ Pavlovich Annenkov, 1889-1974; cover by Anton Mikhailovich Lavinskiĭ.
Moscow and Petersburg: Circle, 1923.

This collection of verse was dedicated to “Lil’ia” (Lili Brik). The Constructivist cover design clearly broke with the more figurative and expressive styles that dominated pre-Revolutionary art. The publisher’s mark is an abstract representation of a hammer and sickle.


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Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky, 1893-1930.
Вещи этого года до августа
[Things of this year before August 1, 1923.]

Berlin: On the Eve, 1924.

Many Saint Petersburg publishers either relocated to Berlin or set up parallel publishing operations there between World War I and the early 1920s. The copyright statement of this Berlin publication ensured that European observance of copyright was not country-specific: “All rights in Russia and abroad are reserved for… ‘On the Eve’ Berlin 1924. All rights reserved.”


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Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky, 1893-1930.
[I Love.]

No place of publication, publisher, or date of publication.

Dedicated to “L.IU.B.”: the initials of Lil’ia Iur’evna Brik and the first three letters of the word “love” in Russian. It is quite possible that this is a proof copy, rather than a finished publication, although the content is present in full. Other copies are available in the world, but all have full imprints, dated 1922.


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Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky, 1893-1930, David Burliuk, 1882-1967, Nikolaĭ Burliuk, 1890-1920, and Velimir Khlebnikov, 1855-1922.
Требникъ троихъ. [The Missal of the Three.] Illustrations by the authors, Nadezhda Burliuk, and Vladimir Evgrafovich Tatlin, 1885-1953.
Moscow: G. L. Kuz’min and S. D. Dolinskiĭ, 1913.

This work reflects avant-garde literary activity in Moscow similar to that in St. Petersburg at the same time. Belying its title, Missal of the Three is a true collaboration of the four artists named and others who created both poetry and artwork, sometimes creating portraits of one another. Displayed is Nadezhda Burliuk’s portrait of Viktor Vladimirovich [pseud. Velimir] Khlebnikov. Vladimir Burliuk’s work here is among his last before he was drafted and killed in World War I. Tatlin was an artist who built abstract structures making use of diverse components after the revolution, his most famous being “Monument to the Third International” in 1920.


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Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky, 1893-1930.
Cover designed by Lazar Markovich Lisitskіῐ [pseud. El Lissitzky], 1890 -1941.
Moscow and Leningrad: State Publisher, 1927.

The artist El Lissitsky, who signed this cover design, developed a style called Proun which combined Suprematism (promoted by his colleague Malevich) and Constructivism. He was committed to developing an artistic style that could reach the masses and, in a sense, applied his architectural background to Malevich’s painting style. He conceived of a book as an artistic medium, and, therefore, presented the geometric cover design from several different perspectives simultaneously. El Lissitzky remained in the Soviet Union and eventually developed propaganda art (AGITPROP, or agitational propaganda) for the Soviet government.


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Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky, 1893-1930.
Про это.
[Concerning This.]
Cover and illustrations by the Constructivist Aleksandr Mikhaĭlovich Rodchenko, 1891-1956.
Facsimile republication, Ann Arbor: Ardis Press 1973; originally published Moscow and Petersburg: “LEF,”1923.

This book’s dedication “To her and me” is thought to refer to Lili Brik, Mayakovsky’s colleague and love interest whose photograph is on the cover. Mayakovsky welcomed the Revolution and took seriously his duty as a poet to serve the proletariat, and yet many of his works, such as this book of verse, are about love.


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Aleksandr Belenson, editor.
[The Archer. First Collection.]
Frontispiece by David Burliuk, 1882-1967, and other illustrations by Nikolaĭ Ivanovich Kul’bin, 1868-1917.
Petrograd: Archer, 1915.

The first issue of the anthology The Archer in 1915 was created by members of Hylaea (an early Futurist group), as well as by Symbolists, Acmeists, and unaffiliated artists. It was the first publication to provide a publishing outlet for Futurists (with the implied blessing of their non-Futurist colleagues). The contributions by writers and artists such as Livshits, the Burliuk brothers, Kamensky, Mayakovsky, Kruchenykh, and Khlebnikov were radically different from the works of the Symbolists or the Acmeists.


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Iakov Georgievich Chernikhov, 1889-1951.
Основы современной архитектугы.
[Foundations of Contemporary Architecture.]
Illustrated by the author.
Leningrad: Leningrad Architects, 1931.

Chernikhov, who taught architecture courses at the Institute for Engineers of Railway Transportation in Petrograd, was inspired by technology and applied a constructivist approach to architecture. This work, subtitled “Experimental-investigative Works,” is an example of the kind of creativity that still existed into the 1930s.