On view across Printed Matter’s back wall is a poster display featuring the work of Russian artists Yevgeniy Fiks and Anton Ginzburg. The presentation coincides with the exhibition Russian Revolution: A Contested Legacy, currently on view at the International Print Center New York, and commemorating the centennial of the 1917 Russian Revolution.
Fik’s work takes an iconic 1920 poster by El Lissitzky, one of the leaders of the Russian avant-garde, and superimposes Yiddish writing over the original Russian. By doing so, Fiks highlights what he calls Lissitzky’s “hyphenated” identity as a Soviet-Jewish artist, challenging established art historical narratives in which Lissitzky’s role as a modern, international artist superseded his relationship with Jewish cultural traditions. The posted is printed in two color variants.
In his Meta-Constructivism poster series, Anton Ginzburg casts a contemporary glance at the idealistic pursuits of the Russian revolution, invoking the graphic language of Constructivism to which they have become inextricably linked. The posters on view are part of Ginzburg’s larger project, entitled Blue Flame: Constructions and Initiatives, in which the artist put himself through the study course of Vkhutemas (Higher State Artistic and Technical Studios), the most progressive school in Moscow in the 1920s. His goal was to internalize the methods and experience of Soviet Constructivist and Productivist artists and to translate them for a contemporary context, but also to signal the end of this period of high modernist aspirations.