Monday, October 19, 2009

For the Voice

This is one of the more interesting books of Russian poetry I picked up in recent years. Mayakovsky teamed up with El Lizzitsky to create this rather stark set of elemental poems that seemed to echo El Lizzitsky's ideas of prouns, or building blocks that could be used in art, literature and architecture.

Admittedly, I picked up the book more for El Lizzitsky than I did Mayakovsky. The idea of "prouns" have fascinated me, as they proved to be a major influence on early modernist architecture. El Lizzitsky traveled extensively throughout Europe, spending time both at the Bauhaus and in Rotterdam, where he came in contact with De Stijl artists and architects. It was an exciting time as literature, art and architecture all seemed to impact and shape each other, with many of the boundaries being removed.

El Lizzitsky would turn out to have a better fate than Mayakovsky under Stalin, who appeared to become very quickly disillusioned with the Soviet state, publishing such works as The Bedbug and The Bathhouse which satirically aimed at the petty bureaucratic society the great socialist nation had become under Stalin.

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