Visu­al Arts

The Pow­er of Pic­tures: Ear­ly Sovi­et Pho­tog­ra­phy, Ear­ly Sovi­et Film

Susan Tumarkin Good­man, Jens Hoff­mann, Alexan­der Lavrentiev
  • From the Publisher
December 22, 2015

Fol­low­ing the 1917 Russ­ian Rev­o­lu­tion, pho­tog­ra­phy, film, and posters played an essen­tial role in the cam­paign to dis­sem­i­nate moder­ni­ty and Com­mu­nist ide­ol­o­gy. From ear­ly exper­i­men­tal works by Alexan­der Rod­chenko and El Lis­sitzky to the mod­ernist pho­to­jour­nal­ism of Arkady Shaikhet and Max Pen­son, Sovi­et pho­tog­ra­phers were not only in the van­guard of style and tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion but also rad­i­cal in their inte­gra­tion of art and pol­i­tics. Film­mak­ers such as Dzi­ga Ver­tov, Sergei Eisen­stein, and Esfir Shub pio­neered cin­e­mat­ic tech­niques for works intend­ed to mobi­lize viewers. 

Cov­er­ing the peri­od from the Rev­o­lu­tion to the begin­ning of World War II, The Pow­er of Pic­tures con­sid­ers Sovi­et avant-garde pho­tog­ra­phy and film in the con­text of polit­i­cal his­to­ry and cul­ture. Three essays trace this gen­er­a­tion of artists, their exper­i­ments with new media, and their pur­suit of a new polit­i­cal order. A wealth of stun­ning pho­tographs, film stills, and film posters, as well as mag­a­zine and book designs, demon­strate that their out­put encom­passed a spec­tac­u­lar range of style, con­tent, and per­spec­tive, and an extra­or­di­nary sense of the pow­er of the pho­to­graph to change the world.

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