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key arguments that, in some respects, might underminethe convenient historical divisions that have been established for the Russian avant-garde. For example, it is always tempting to accept the popular argument that the October Revolution inspired Rodchenko and other avantgarde artists to explore the ideas of industrial and mechanical forms, to favor an art of construction and to emphasize the relevance of applied art. But we must not forget that Rodchenko (like Exter, Malevich, Popova, Georgii Yakulov and others) was interested in these issues before the Revolution and contributed a number of “Constructivist” designs to Moscow exhibitions in 1916 and early 1917. In other words, a political chronology does not always coincidewith an artistic one, and, even though they may seem to interconnect, they may run only parallel and never touch. A palpable weakness of this book lies in the treatment of Rodchenko’s later activities, i.e. from the mid-1930s onwards. There is no attempt to place Rodchenko in the harsh political context of that time, to tell us the real story of his journey to the White Sea Canal project as a press photographer in the early 1930s, and there is only muted reference to the mounting attacks on him in the press. We would not know from this biography that Rodchenko’s works were removed from display in Soviet museums in 1934 (until the mid- 1960s),that he was dismissed as a ‘formalist’ and that, after the arrests of his colleagues Alexander Drevin and Gustav Klucis in the late 1930s,he lived in fear of his life. Understandably, KhanMagomedov is not in a position to deal with these complexities, but we have the right to question the validity of such silence and to expect-one day-a fuller reckoning. This book may contain disorientations and lacunae, but it still demonstrates the author’s tenacity and his commitment to the Russian avantgarde . The result is an exceptional monument-well researched, well planned , well designed-to an exceptional artist, and we should be grateful to KhanMagomedov for his perseverance and dedication. RUSSIAN SAMIZDAT ART by John E. Bowlt. Szymon Bojko and Rimma and Valery Gerlovin. Willis Locker & Owens Publishing, 71 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012, U.S.A., 1986. 210 pp., illus. Paper, $9.95; Trade, $19.95. ISBN: 09320279050; ISBN: 0930279042. Reviewed by Nicoletta Misler, via Foscolo 24, 00185 Roma, Italy. Russian Samizdat Art was published on the occasion of an exhibition of the same name that opened at the Franklin Furnace Gallery, New York, in 1982and then toured various cities in the U.S. and Canada, finishing at the LACE Gallery, Los Angeles, in time for the 1984Olympic Games. Both the exhibition and the book were designed and assembled by Rimma and Valery Gerlovin, although, unquestionably , the book is an autonomous endeavor both in its ‘democratic’, paperback edition and in its deluxe, limited edition (I25 copies supplemented with six artist prints by V. Bakhchanyan, M. Chernyshov, R. Gerlovina, V. Gerlovin, H. Khudyakov, and Komar and Melamid). One wonders, in fact, whether these added prints should not also be regarded as samizdat. Charles Doria has organized the book on three different levels: the historical approach traces the avant-garde origins of the samizdat edition back to the CuboFuturist manifestos; the sociological analysis of the Russian cultural emigrations from the nineteenth century onwards; and a contemporary overview of the new Soviet avant-garde from the ‘inside’, i.e. by those who have participated in it. In the first article, “A Slap in the Face of Public Taste”, John E. Bowlt argues that the Russian Cubo-Futurist book of the 191Os, often hand made or hand painted and issued in very limited editions, constituted a portable work of art. Here was an artifact that often contained-within its miniature format -more radical experiments than a large canvas did. Consequently, these booklets “can be viewed as an intimate gallery of modern Russian art, containing all the isms (and more) that Hans Arp and El Lissitzky described in 1924”. True,Bowlt does not make a direct connection between these experiments and the contemporary manifestations of .ramizdat included in the exhibition, but, no doubt, the minimal scale, the restricted accessibility of meaning...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
pp. 102-103
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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