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

Terms of use for Google Books

This page states the terms and conditions surrounding the British Library’s out of copyright books which have been digitised by Google.

How to request items not in the catalogue

You can use 'Request Other Items' to order items which have no record in Explore the British Library. Also to order most items found in Expore Archives and Manuscripts.

Guide to the British National Bibliography

A guide to help you use the British National Bibliography catalogue, covering: login, search, and how to manage your results

What collection items can I view online?

You can see books, manuscripts, maps, playbills, scores and much more. Researchers can use our collection of electronic resources and databases to help them find material relevant to their research.

How to handle rolled items

We show how you should unroll items like scrolls, rolls and maps.

Electronic resources

We collect thousands of electronic journals, books and websites and hundreds of databases. You need to come to the Library to access the majority of these resources.

Can I copy material in the Reading Rooms?

What you need to know about copying British Library collections in our Reading Rooms

Can I take photographs of British Library material myself?

You can take photos of our collection items yourself in British Library Reading Rooms

How to handle books

See the techniques you should use to keep our books in good shape.

Using gloves with books and manuscripts

Should you wear gloves? Here's some advice to help you decide.

Breaches of British Library Reading Room Conditions of Use

These guidelines outline the British Library’s policies and procedures with regard to breaches of its Reading Room Conditions of Use. They are to ensure consistency in the actions taken in response to such breaches and to define the appropriate roles and responsibilities in the process.

Guide to Explore the British Library

A guide to help you use the catalogue, covering: login, search, how to manage your results, how to order/view items

Free Discovery and 1-2-1 sessions: 2019

We offer a range of free Discovery and 1-2-1 sessions to help you make the most of your time researching here.

Search for Cyrillic items in the catalogue

How to search for Cyrillic items in the catalogue

Get a Reader Pass

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How to handle folded items

Find out how you should hand items like large maps and book inserts.

Using the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC)

How to use the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC)

How to get a Reader Pass if you are under 18

How to apply for an under 18 Reader Pass

Guide to researching provenance of books now in the British Library

Where do the British Library’s old printed books ‘come from'? Who owned or read them in centuries past? Why does it matter?