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Avant-Garde – Ukraine

Krytyka: zhurnal-misiachnyk marksysts'koi krytyky ta bibliohrafii [Criticism: a monthly journal of Marxist criticism and bibliography]. 16 of 24 issues published in the original series, in fifteen fascicles.

Kharkiv: Derzhavno vydavnytstvo Ukrainy, 1928–1932. Octavos (ca. 23 × 17 cm). Original decorative wrappers by Vadym Meller, printed in orange and red; ca. 120–220 pp. per issue. Most issues with several leaves of plates on coated stock. Good to very good, with some issues uncut and unopened; stamps of the State Library of Central Asia (Uzbekistan) from the 1920–30 (see below); occasional light wear and creasing to wrappers; some nicks to spines.

Significant run of one of the leading modern Ukrainian journals of literature and the arts, with coverage of avant-garde art and literature from a Marxist point of view, and a domestic and broadly international focus. Edited by Mykola Skrypnyk, A. Khvylia, V. Desniak, V. Koriak, F. Taran, I. Kulik, T. Stepovyi, and Ia. Savchenko. Apart from them, the circle of contributors included Iv. Vrona, E. Perlin, S. Utevs'kyi, I. Kahanov, I. Aizenshtok, V. Sedliar, A. Shamrai, M. Dolengo, Mykola Baikov, I. Kulyk, Hr. Maifet, and many others. Among the leading subjects are the necessity of a Marxist literary criticism; the work of Lesya Ukrainka, Shevchenko, and Vynnychenko; and various emerging literary tendencies. Issue 4 contains a translation of an article about American proleterian writers by young American poet Robert Wolf. The issues also contain ongoing reviews of recent Ukrainian, Russian, and Western books and journals, sometimes alongside valuable illustrations of wrapper designs. The journal also reviewed foreign journals, such as Der Sturm and New Masses.

Wrappers designed by a leading theatre designer of the period, Vadym Meller, the head artist of Les Kurbas' avant-garde Berezil Theatre. Meller (1884–1962) studied in Kyiv and Munich, where he was close to the Blaue Reiter group. He later exhibited alongside Kazimir Malevich and Aleksandra Ekster. The overall design is by his wife, Nina Henke-Meller (1893–1954), a noted Ukrainian suprematist artist who studied at Ekster's studio and was later active in Kyiv futurist circles. Most issues contains numerous black-and-white reproductions, with subjects including constructivist architecture in Kyiv, works by Vasyl Yermylov, Anatol Petrytsky, V. Kasyan, Les Kurbas, B. Kratko, M. Shekhtman, M. Rokyts'kii, Solomon Yudovin, and others. One issue contains several reproductions of the work of Diego Rivera. Some issues contain group photographs of Ukrainian writers visiting the Donbass or Belarus.

The first series comprised 24 issues. In 1930, the journal was continued as "Za markso-lenins'ku krytyku" through 1932, for a total of 52 issues. The numbers included here are: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (1928); 1, 4, 5, 7–8, 11, 12 (1929). The print runs range from 1000 to 2700 copies per issue.

The journal was apparently published under the patronage of Mykola Skrypnyk (1872–1933), an old Bolshevik leader and leading figure of Soviet Ukraine. While not a nationalist, Skrypnyk had been a crucial driver behind the Ukrainization policy of the 1920s, which aimed at broadening Soviet power by relying on and fostering Ukrainian language and cultural life. By the early 1930s, this policy was re-branded as a nationalist counter-revolution and Stalin forced its reversal as part of a centralization effort in 1933, as a result of which Skrypnyk committed suicide to avoid recanting.

Provenance: late 1920s or 1930s rubber stamps of the State Public Library of Central Asia (“G.P.B-ka Sr. Az.” and “GPB Sr.Az.”), subsequently renamed the State Public Library of Uzbekistan. As none of the issues feature later stamps following the renaming and restructuring in the early 1930s, the journal was evidently deaccessioned or moved to the exchange fund at this time. Periodicals with similar stamps are occasionally seen in commerce.

As of March 2023, KVK, OCLC show three holdings in North America, ranging from one to three issues, as well as one holding of "Za markso-lenins'ku krytyku."

Book ID: 52565

Price: $3,500.00