The Daily Heller: What is Black and White and Red All Over?

Posted inThe Daily Heller

Whatever you think about the impact of the Russian Revolution and the early days of the Soviet Union, one cannot deny the ingenuity and flair of Soviet graphic design. If “revolutionary” means “unprecedented,” Soviet designers reformed and transformed graphic process and typographic presentation through many varied posters, flyers, books and, especially, magazines. They worked with primitive presses, cheap paper, limited supplies of ink and metal type, but often from limitations derived mini masterpieces of graphic (yes, and propaganda) design. Many were predominantly black, white and red. But other colors came into play.

My friends at Productive Arts, Howard Garfinkle and Larry Leman, among the most astute procurers and dealers in Russian Avant Garde and quotidian artifact/ephemera, frequently uncover caches and runs for lesser-known (at least now) journals and zines. Here are two that I find particularly compelling (take that, Vladimir Putin!).

Poligraficheskoe Proizvodstvo (Printing Production): A lavishly produced journal, distributed under this title from 1926–1963, concentrating on the publishing industry, often with tipped-in examples and Constructivist covers. Issues were published in Moscow by the State Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR on the Press.

Need I say, I want them.

ROST: Released from 1930–1934 with literary and topical themes in striking photomontage covers. Published in Moscow by the All-Russian Association of Proletarian Writers.

These designs never look old. That’s a [Re]evolutionary paradox.