Princeton University Library has acquired a complete set of the 13 issues of the journal Бригада художнков (Artists’ Brigade) issued between 1931 and 1932. The journal was published towards the end of the first five year plan (1928-32) by ФОСХ (Федерация объединений советских художников – Federation of Associations of Soviet Artists) and documents a specific moment in the ongoing Soviet cultural revolution and the ongoing evolution and reconfiguration of artistic groupings.
Much like its contemporary publications such as Советское искусство (Soviet Art) – which focus on the role in Soviet culture and society of art writ large – Бригада художников assumes a posture that looks back at a superseded pre-Revolutionary visual art and forward to the full maturation of the still evolving visual art and design of the new civilization under construction. Most of the articles contemplate the status quo of Soviet visual art and design and formulate prescriptions for its ideologically correct evolution and maximally impactful deployment. The line between past and present is marked in pieces addressing abandoned pre-Revolutionary visual art: “Искусство вчерашнего дня” – Yesterday’s art, “Конец мансарды” – The Death of the Atelier. Others address the fundamentally different evolving visual art of the new civilization with its new ruling class: “В поисках новой формы” – In Search of a New Form; “Творческий метод пролетарского искусства” – The Creative Method of Proletarian Art. The issues’ most salient preoccupations are questions of the representation of the new reality using traditional media (“Пятилетка в живописи” – The Five-Year Plan in Painting), new media and techniques such as photomontage, resolution of contemporary disputes and organizational issues surrounding ideological and aesthetic orthodoxy (“Классовая диференциаия художников” – Class Differentiation of Artists; “Петерстройка литературно-художественных организаций” – The Restructuring of Literary and Art Organizations), and visual art and design’s place among and relationship to the other arts in the totally reconceived artistic and cultural landscape of the new Soviet civilization (“Роль и место художника на театре” – The Role and Place of the Artist in the Theatre).
On the whole the issues foreground the agitational and educative functions of the new visual art and design in new genres such as the poster, the new “book for the masses” and the new children’s book: “Оформлению плаката надо учиться” – Poster Design is a Learned Art; “Проблемы оформления массовой книги” – Problems of Designing Books for the Masses; “Детская книга на перепутьи” – The Children’s Book at a Crossroads (which discusses the artist’s or illustrator’s new role as co-author).
Among others, covers were designed by El Lissitzky, Solomon Telingater, the Stenberg Brothers, and Mechislav Dobrokovski.