Constructivist Film: Свет, камера, действие

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Свет, камера, действие (Lights, camera, action!). If you think you’ve seen Constructivist and Soviet film ephemera before, think again. Or look again at the current exhibition at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller’s Rare Gallery, “Constructivist Design for Soviet Cinema,” on view at 17 W. 54th St., NYC, until May 31. See the digital catalog here.

I asked Lauren Miller Walsh, the director of Rare, how this amazing collection (that includes printed media published in the 1920s and designed by the leading Constructivist designers of the period, including Alexander Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, Gustav Klutsis, Konstantin Vialov and the Stenberg Brothers) was assembled:

“All the materials in the exhibition were—quite remarkably—assembled by a single collector, and constitute only a portion of his overall Russian holdings. He was initially introduced to Constructivism through photography, but was soon equally captivated by the movement’s fearless and distinctive design aesthetics.”

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“He was especially drawn to the materials created for the Soviet cinema of the 1920s, not just for the stunning caliber of the work and the designers involved—Alexander Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, Gustav Klutis and the Stenberg Brothers, among others—but also for its diversity, which included posters, actor profiles, film prospectuses, advertisements, periodicals and books, as well as original photocollages and maquettes. Over 300 of these pieces are currently on display in the gallery, as well as some of the actual films related to them.”

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to present such an outstanding and comprehensive design collection, and one in such impeccable condition. Its range and quality are testament to the ingenuity of the period’s artists, the patent political and societal importance of the cinema to the nascent Communist regime, and to this particular collector’s clear vision and discernment.”

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Soviet Photo, 1927.

You may be familiar with the posters, but these actor profiles, prospectuses, advertisements, periodicals and books, as well as original photocollages and maquettes representing the revolutionary design aesthetics of the era and the political importance of the cinema to the nascent Communist regime will be entirely new.

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Kino Journal (Association of Revolutionary Cinematographers), 1925

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Crazy Train: Novel-Film), no date

Among the periodicals on display will be scarce issues of Ekran: Kino-Gazety, Sovetskii Ekran, Proletarskoe Kino, Kino-Fot and Sovetskoe Kino—many in complete annual volumes. Period books on the cinema and filmmaking will also be shown, as will rare original photocollages by Petr Galadzhev and outstanding examples of the Constructivists’ vibrant and visually innovative design.

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Soviet Screen, 1925

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Screen of Movie Gazette, 1925

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