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Constructivism – Factography

Novyi LEF [New LEF], no. 8 (1928).

Moscow: Gosizdat, 1928. Octavo (22.3 × 15.2 cm). Original photo-illustrated wrappers by Aleksandr Rodchenko; 47, [1] pp. With two leaves of plates, featuring among others typo-photograhic works by Varvara Stepanova to recto and verso, on somewhat thicker paper stock. Wrappers somewhat dust-soiled; carefully, hardly visibly restored at the fold as well as at the edges; back cover with contemporary Soviet bookstore stamp and small color pencil scribbles; else very good.

A single issue of this leading avant-garde journal of the eponymous artistic group Levyi front iskusstva (Left front of the arts: LEF) edited by the futurist poet and artist Vladimir Mayakovsky. Published monthly 1927–1928, twenty-four issues of the journal appeared in total. The original LEF, published 1923–1925, introduced Constructivist design and formulated “productivism” as a movement in the arts. The editorial team also understood art as playing a central role in the class struggle. By 1925, just seven issues of the central organ of the Russian avant-garde had appeared. Due to massive criticism of its apparent incomprehensibility to the masses, the journal was discontinued. Two years later, the series continued under the name Novyi LEF (New LEF) for two more years, with the final year appearing under the direction of Sergei Tretiakov. From the beginning, Aleksandr Rodchenko was responsible for the cover design, having won a cover design contest in 1923. (See John Bowlt and Béatrice Hernad, Aus vollem Halse, Munich 1993, p. 135f.) The 1927–1928 issues focused on Factography or “photography of fact,” with a special interest in left-leaning cinema. The new publication positioned itself against the “poor taste” and “lack of class-consciousness” of art of the NEP period. Aware of the upcoming drive toward industrialization, the editorial team understood the “twinning of art with production a necessary factor in the industrialization of the country.” Novyi LEF featured Rodchenko's photographic experiments, which were highly controversial at the time, characterized by extreme perspectives, dynamic oblique views, and spatial superimpositions that significantly influenced the photography of the New Vision (see Claudia Gabrielle Philipp, in: Kat. MKG, Hamburg 2001, p. 205ff.).

This issue contains, among other things, a rebuttal by Boris Kushner to Rodchenko. In his "Otkrytoe pismo" (Open Letter) he writes against the defense of experimental perspectives in photography.

Scarce in the trade. One of 2.400 copies printed.

Cat. MoMa (Rowell/Wye) 715; Cat. MoMA, Rodchenko 218.

Book ID: 52318

Price: $750.00