The Soviet Union was unique in its formidable and dynamic use of the illustrated book as a means of propaganda. Through the book, the U.S.S.R. articulated its totalitarian ideologies and expressed its absolute power in an unprecedented way—through avant-garde writing and radical artistic design that was in full flower during the 1920s and ’30s. No other country, nation, government or political system promoted itself more by attracting and employing acclaimed members of the avant-garde. Among them were writers like Semion Kirsanov, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Ilya Selvinsky, Sergei Tretyakov and Kornely Zelinsky; artistic designers like Gustav Klutsis, Valentina Kulagina, El Lissitzky, Sergei Senkin, Varvara Stepanova, Solomon Telingater and Nikolai Troshin; and photographers including Dmitry Debabov, Vladimir Griuntal, Boris Ignatovich, Alexander Khlebnikov, Yeleazar Langman, Alexander Rodchenko, Georgy Petrusov—not to mention many of the best printers and book binders.
The Soviet Photobook 1920–1941 presents 160 of the most stunning and elaborately produced photobooks from this period and includes more than 400 additional reference illustrations. The book also provides short biographies of the photobook contributors, some of whom are presented here for the first time.