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April 8, 2002 — 10 AM


You probably have a soft spot for the Russian artistic movements of the post-Revolution era, even if you don’t know it. The avant-garde in Russia, collected mostly under the labels of Futurism and Constructivism, saw an eager application of new techniques and philosophies in art, design and typography, in books, on posters and ads, and in all cases, generally for the higher purpose of the people’s state. Looking at the results now, even images eighty or ninety years old seem sleek, sophisticated and cunning. This was an important time of great self-confidence, as artists helped forge an experimental new society with their new, unique style. And it’s a style that resonates even today. Ironically, some of the most crafty and sophisticated design for products and advertising coming out of the great capitalist beast that is America owes a debt to a movement founded on entirely communist principles.

To its credit, New York’s Museum of Modern Art has put together a fabulous online version of their current exhibit: The Russian Avant-Garde Book 1910–1934. You can browse through the hundreds of books collected for the exhibit, leaf through examples of the pages and read up on your art history. Each unfamiliar term in the accompanying text — what does “Constructivism” mean anyway — is linked to a simple glossary definition. The interface is very effortless, the amount of information and eye candy extraordinary.

After you’ve perused that for awhile, you might also be curious to see (and perhaps purchase) an original propaganda poster from behind the Iron Curtain.


Previously: One for Youppi!

Subsequently: Moozap

April 2002
the Archives