The Graphic Life of Letters in Russian Avant-Garde Book Design
From 1910 through the 1930s, “the book” played a consistently fertile medium for innovation and experimentation among artists of the Russian avant-garde. While constructivist theories and works by El Lissitzky, Alexander Rodchenko, and Il’ia Zdanevich (Iliazd) are generally familiar to type historians, students, and designers, less well known are the neo-primitivist and cubo-futurist publications of the early 1910s that influenced them.
Though the text of these earlier editions is written primarily in manuscript and reproduced through lithography, this talk will highlight specific practices and design elements in them that not only appear later in constructivist typography, but epitomize it. In addition to the afore-listed artist-designers, we also will look at Aleksei Kruchenykh, Vasily Kamensky, Pavel Filonov, Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, and Olga Rozanova, all of whom strove to re-endow the printed word with the same vibrancy and vitality found in ancient texts, sacred manuscripts, painted signboards, and other forms of visually expressive text.
The Herb Lubalin Lectures are recorded and made available here and on Vimeo with the generous support of Hoefler&Co.