The seventy-first meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:00 PM at Parsons The New School, 2 West 13th Street, in the Bark Room (off the lobby). Free and open to the public.
Presentation: Misha Beletsky on Visual Storytelling in Early 20th c. Russian Illustrated Book
Early Soviet books were created in a period of complete devastation of the printing trade, and an astonishing outburst of creativity that made up for all technical deficiencies. These talks will examine new ways words and images came together to tell a story in illustrated books for children and adults of the period.
Part One: Legacy of the Avant-Garde: Word Play and Picture Play
The art of children’s books flourished in the first two decades after the 1917 Revolution. The medium attracted some of the most important artists of this period (including Lissitsky, Lebedev, and Tatlin) and authors (including Mayakovsky, Marshak, and the OBERIU group). Rapidly, the language of the fringe Avant-Garde movements displaced the mainstream of Russian art. Illustrated books, like other media, were thoroughly reinvented. For a limited time, until the onset of the officially-mandated Socialist Realist esthetic in the mid-30s, unbridled experimentation in visual storytelling was equated with political progress and promoted by the new regime. We will focus on the artists and the movements that defined this era.
Part Two: The Space of Time: Moscow School of Wood Engraving
Scarcity of photoengraving materials, combined with dismal printing quality in the post-Civil-War Moscow brought about a resurgence of handmade line cuts, or wood engravings. Formerly utilized mainly to reproduce pen-and-ink drawings, the technique came into its own as a group of talented Moscow artists including Favorsky, Piskarev, and Goncharov adopted it as their medium of choice. Eschewing complete rejection of tradition by their Constructivist colleagues, these artists carefully studied world heritage of printmaking retaining those elements they felt relevant to the modern experience and letting go of the others. They felt equally comfortable with elements of contemporary Avant-Garde idiom and occasionally utilized them in their work. Of particular interest to us are the concepts of time and space, as interpreted in single-panel compositions by Vladimir Favorsky and his followers.
Misha Beletsky is a graphic designer and design historian. He is the author of Book Covers by Ismar David. Misha has been the art director of Abbeville Press, a publisher of fine illustrated books in New York for over a decade.