Aleksandr Rodtxenko, Varvara Stepanova. L’URSS en construction, nº 8, 1936

“The August 1936 number on Soviet timber exports also provided Rodchenko and Stepanova with extensive leeway for thematic development through the sequence, juxtaposition, scale, texture, and tinting of photographs. For the front and back covers, the designers used an enlarged photograph of wood grain which recalls the experiments with faktura, or texture, of their early Constructivist paintings. Among the initial images is a photograph by Rodchenko of a Soviet forest. Tinted in a deep green and spread over two pages, it is a more straightforward image than his Pushkino forest pictures of 1927 where he photographed the trees from below (...) In other spreads, we see close comparisons to the dynamic symmetrical layouts of Rodchenko’s avant-garde posters and book covers in the 1920s. One spread that describes how timber is bought to the various ports from the sawmills and factories around the country features a circle with a partial facade of a public building, including a hammer and a sickle, flanked by two dynamic photographs of wooden planks recalling the strong use of symmetrical diagonals in some of Rodchenko's earlier logos, book covers, and posters.”

Victor Margolin. The struggle for utopia: Rodchenko, Lissitzky, Moholy-Nagy, 1917-1946. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997 (p. 193-194)

“By way of comparison, let us turn to another Rodchenko and Stepanova issue of USSR Under Construction on lumber exports. The external treatment is calmer, the pages are scarcely transformed. The cover shows the beautiful pattern of a section of wood veneer, while the pages reproduce graphically the elegant texture of tree crowns, planks and logs. A small folded booklet with facts on the export of lumber is placed in the center of the spread, emphasizing the relationship of paper to the timber from which it is manufactured –a book within a book that gives a new metaphoric dimension to the journal’s content. In a review of this issue, the English Timber Trade Journal called it a poem about timber.”

Alexander Lavrentiev. Varvara Stepanova: the complete work. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1988 (p. 140)

“El Lissitzky and Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers were the first avant-garde artists to contribute to the magazine, and they were soon followed by Aleksandr Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova, who designed, among others, the August 1936 issue on Soviet timber exports. Their collaborative work was based on Rodchenko's geometrically precise schematic layouts for which Stepanova made visual content. Rodchenko's approach to photomontage employed dynamic compositions, unusual angles that delayed recognition, and a focus on details. The illustrations and the layouts of each spread were treated as one complex photomontage and adjusted in order to accomodate the textual narrative. The mock-up was then handed over to the retouching studio with clear instructions regarding the colour balance and grading. Rodchenko's characteristically tinted backgrounds activated the flat surface of the spread, providing vivid imagery to engage the viewer.”

Red star over Russia: a revolution in visual culture, 1905-55. London: Tate Publishing, 2017 (p. 60)