Pod Maskoi Razoruzheniya - Voina, Albom Diagramm [War Preparations Under the Guise of Disarmament - A Diagrams Portfolio]. A portfolio 30 lithographed pictorial sheets by N. Kochergin (1897-1974, People's Artist of the Soviet Union), edited by I. Ivanitsky, published by Lenizogiz-Izostat, Leningrad, 1933, 31 x 24 cm each.
A tour de force by Nikolai Kochergin, a talented graphic artist with extensive experience in the field of propaganda graphics since the Civil War years (see, for example, lot 13). Kochergin occupies a prominent place in the history of Soviet experiments with Otto Neurath's theories on the pictorial representation of statistical information.
A small historical note is in order here. In 1931, the rise in demand for propaganda materials detailing the Five Years Plan goals led to creation of IZOSTAT, the Institute of Pictorial Statistics, that would specialize in producing visual materials for the Statistics Directorate. Austrian Otto Neurath, the creator of the Vienna Method of Pictorial Statistics and the driving force behind the Isotype movement, played an important role in setting up the new institute. IZOSTAT's early leader, I. Ivanitsky, was a firm believer in Neurath's ideas, and even published a book on the Vienna Method. Ivanitsky, who had worked with Kochergin on several occasions, invited the artist to work on IZOSTAT projects
Kochergin's work is emblematic of the evolution that the Wiener Bildstatistik method had undergone in the Soviet Union. It preserved many of Neurath's ideas - for the sake of clarity and simplicity, the artist avoids the use of potentially misleading realistic images in favor of pictographs and forgoes the use of perspective in design. At the same time, some of Neurath's canonic rules are ignored, most notably his insistence on eliminating any design elements that could distract the viewer from acquiring the statistical data. Soviet campaigns invariably included a propaganda component that could not be ignored. Kochergin manages to achieve a delicate balance between two seemingly contradictory goals. In his designs, strong visual images emotionally impact the viewer while the clarity of the statistical presentation is generally preserved.
With the ascent of Social Realism as the predominant art style, "formalistic" pictograms largely disappeared from Soviet posters. This makes the Pod Maskoy cycle particularly relevant - it provides a fresh perspective on Kochergin's legacy, that of an artist closely attuned to avant-garde artistic ideas
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