1924. Tartu: Propeller, 1924. Octavo (24.5 × 16.5 cm). Original wrappers with a constructivist design and typography by Jaan Vahtra; 109,  pp. One original woodcut print and fifteen smaller illustrations by Vahtra in the text. Printed on thick paper. A very good copy.
One of the most striking publications of the Estonian avant-garde, showing the breadth of Barbarus’ literary aspirations and his interest in constructivism. The volume consists of five poetic cycles, “Geometrical Man,” “Human Space,” “The Cast of Man,” “Living Monuments,” and “Paris,” illustrated by fifteen vignettes and one full-page original woodcut print by Jaan Vahtra. In the book accompanying a 2012 exhibition of Estonian avant-garde art, Tiit Hennoste writes, citing Barbarus: “His positive programme is a declaration of revolution and the role of the poet as creator of new life: ‘... new poetry is written on the wall of the big city with an electric finger, is created in the smoke of factory chimneys, the burning flames of smelting ovens: new poetry is cosmic, international, the poetry of humanity [...].’ Barbarus's poetry became Constructivist. The first fruit of this is the manifestation of Estonian Constructivism, Geomeetriline Inimene, featuring Barbarus's texts accompanied by illustrations and designs by Jaan Vahtra [...] this was the first pure Estonian metropolitan poetry collection, the sources of which one can find in contemporary French poetry” (Geomeetriline inimene, 81). The constructivist principle is also embodied visually in the poetic texts themselves, which make use of indentation, enjambment, ellipses, varying font sizes, as well as vertical and horizontal lines. Barbarus (Johannes Vares, 1890-1946), lived as a doctor in Pärnu, from where he pursued his literary career and was also active as a socialist politician. Afraid of the NKVD, he committed suicide in 1946. KVK, OCLC show three copies, at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, the British Library, and the Frick Art Library.
Book ID: P5892