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First Nonstop Flight Moscow – Northpole

Cherez polius v Ameriku. Risunki A. Deineka [Across the Pole to America. Drawings by A. Deineka].

Moscow-Leningrad: Izdatel'stvo detskoi literatury (Fabrika detskoi knigi), 1938. Octavo (24.5 × 19 cm). Original pictorial card boards with cloth spine; 38, [2] pages. Numerous color illustrations and portraits. Light rubbing to edges and corners; else about very good.

Soviet children’s book commemorating the world’s first successful voyage by plane across the North Pole, from Moscow to Vancouver, which Baidukov (1907–1994) executed together with V. Chkalov and A. Beliakov in June 1937. For an audience of pre-schoolers, Baidukov here recounts the three-day journey from a first person perspective, describing the actions of his colleagues and finally their enthusiastic arrival in the United States and their reception back in Moscow. In 1941, Baidukov would be dispatched to the US by Stalin to discuss the Soviet purchase of American fighter planes with President Roosevelt, shortly after the Soviet Union entered the war in June 1941.

Illustrated by Aleksandr Deineka (1899–1969), a leading modernist figurative painter. From 1920–1925, Deineka studied at VKhUTEMAS, a hotbed of artistic experimentation in the 1920s. In 1925 he became a founding, and perhaps the most prominent, member of “OST” (Obshchestvo stankistov), or the “Society of Easel Painters”, active in Moscow in 1925–1931. The group’s objective was to fight against traditional realism, and to move toward “a new, modern realism.” OST artists were most interested in contemporary and urban themes, machines, sport, and similar reflections of modernity. The group also positioned itself against abstraction and constructivism, advocating a return to figurative art. Nevertheless, their stylistic origins were precisely in left art in combining multiple perspectives, choosing sharp diagonals, and flattened blocks of color all evident in this book. Contemporary critics called OST artists “formalist realists” and noted influences of German expressionism among others.

As of February 2023, KVK and OCLC show four copies in North America.

Book ID: 52654

Price: $1,500.00