Russian avant-garde collections

Russian avant-garde covers
Pomada by A. Kruchenykh (drawings by M. Larionov), 1913 and Partbilet No. 224332: stikhi o Lenine by A. Bezymenskii (photomontage cover by Gustav Klutsis), 1930

The British Library has an extensive collection of Russian avant-garde books of the early 20th century.

About the collection

Our collection embraces two major Russian artistic movements: futurism of the 1910s and constructivism of the 1920s. The strength of the collection is in its sheer range. The most significant items from the futurist period are 15 tiny handwritten and lithographed miscellanies of 1912 to 1917, which are the result of collaboration between a diverse range of artists and poets including Khlebnikov, Kruchenykh, Kamenskii, Maiakovskii, the Burliuks, Larionov, Goncharova, Malevich and Filonov.

In addition to the pre-revolutionary futurist books produced in Moscow or St. Petersburg we also have a small but important number of publications made between 1917-19 in the capital of Georgia, Tiflis. Maiakovskii has the largest number of works in the collection. Rodchenko and Lisitskii are widely represented, and there are examples of designs by other notable constructivist artists of the period such as Al'tman, Telingater, Stepanova, Klutsis, Kulagina and Kliun, as well as the architectural fantasies of Chernikhov.

We have a collection of neo-avant-garde books from the 60s and contemporary artist books, including the limited edition 'artists' books' of the graphic artist Mikhail Karasik, five limited edition books written and illustrated by Leonid Tishkov, and books (some handmade) by Ry Nikonova and Sergei Sigei featuring collages, cut-outs, hand-lettering and visual poetry.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

Use Explore the British Library catalogue to search for printed material and microfilms.

Our holdings are listed in: A catalogue of Russian avant-garde books 1912-1934 and 1969-2003.

The British Library also holds a CD-ROM entitled Futuristy v kollektsii GPIB (books from the collection of the State Historical Public Library in Moscow) and a microform set Russian Futurism, 1910-1916: poetry, manifestos, journals and miscellanies of 77 microfiches.

Russian Avant-garde Online represents works of all Russian literary avant-garde schools and is among the electronic resources available in our Reading Rooms.

What is available in other organisations?

Further resources are available at the following organisations:

How to guides

Search for resources in microforms

How to search for resources in microforms

Search for Cyrillic items in the catalogue

How to search for Cyrillic items in the catalogue

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A guide to how to obtain a British Library Reader Pass to use our Reading Rooms

How to get a Reader Pass if you are under 18

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