Ferro-concrete poems. Vasily Kamensky. Tango with cows

In my opinion the 1910s was the most radical period in Russian history and culture. Artists dehied all traditions and forms of art trying to create something really new and unusual. Books are always the main tool of propaganda of the newest values. And 1910s was not an exception of this rule. For Russian avant-gardists the creation of new forms of book was one of the main direction. They were not only writing absolutely unusual, untypical and in some points without any meanings texts but they were also reflecting on book printing and typography. in XXth century it was a trend called livre d’artiste but all these experiences of french publishers like Vollard had not gone beyond the limits. All livres d’artiste were just about the illustrations for texts but these artists who took part in book printing didn’t make something irregular and unusual. Russian avant-gardists broke all frameworks and limits. Their books were on the scope of book printing and piece of art. For example, the book Tango with cows made by Vasily Kamensky in 1914 was absolutely handmade. It was printed on wallpapers and this gesture was really radical and scandalous. Because of low quality of  printing and different wallpaper’s pattern every copy is unique.

If we are talking about the text of this book it became less and less meaningful but more and more onomatopoetic. All previous regulations of the text shape were broken and texts and phrases began to be an artistic strokes. Every page has millions ways of connotations and reading. And text page became a graphic masterpiece.

This trend of new book was about how book became an art piece and about the infinity of printing possibilities. Up until that time books had been traditional and nobody had had an idea to create something totally new, something that reformulated book’s aesthetics. Russian avant-gardists especially futurists were the first who did it.

Mona Matveeva

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