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El Lissitzky, Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers. La URSS en construcción, nº 9-12, 1937

USSR in Construction was a propaganda magazine whose principal mission was to promote a favorable image of the Soviet Union abroad. Published monthly between 1930 and mid-1941, it was intended primarly for foreign distribution, but it was also distributed within the Soviet Union where it performed a related function of encouraging enthusiasm and support for state policies and practices. Initially it appeared in four separate editions -German, English, Franch, and Russian; later a fifth edition in Spanish was added.”

Victor Margolin. The struggle for utopia: Rodchenko, Lissitzky, Moholy-Nagy. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1997 (p. 166)

“Designed by Aleksandr Rodchenko and El Lissitzky with the help of their spouses Varvara Stepanova and Sophie Lissitzky, USSR in Construction emphasized the importance of imagery in the delivery of information, with photography, diagrams, maps, and photomontage all employed to make powerful visual points (…) Lissitzky was inspired by the work of the documentary filmmaker Dziga Vertov to build cinematic narratives through photography that focused on each issue’s specific theme. Varying scales, visual metaphors, and careful placement of imagery all contributed to creating a coherent visual flow of information. By contrast, Rodchenko and Stepanova were less engaged with narrative but produced dynamic layouts that combined geometric shapes with photomontage (…) USSR in Construction was forced to close when Germany invaded Russia, but it remains important for showcasing some of the most innovative magazine designs of the twentieth century.”

Graphic: 500 designs that matter. London: Phaidon, 2017

“Lissitzky's album on the Stalin Constitution, published as the equivalent of four issues in late 1937, was his most ambitious project for USSR in Construction. Representing the zenith of his epic narrative style, the album combined archival materials with documentary photos, drawings, charts, and graphs (...) The cover established the theme of national unity by featuring a plaster seal that represented all the republics of the USSR. For the introductory photomontage on the title page, Lissitzky placed Vera Mukhina's iconic sculpture, Worker and Collective Farm Girl, atop a globe on which the Soviet Union is outlined in red. A red flag was also planted at the center of the North Pole. Both the flag and the sculpture's location above the globe convey a sense of national triumph, while the sky behind the sculpture, a frequent image in the magazine's photomontages, signifies infinite possibilities for the Soviet Union. The opening photomontage establishes a rethorical frame for the issue whose intent is to extol the superiority of life in the Soviet Union as exemplified by the new Constitution.”

Victor Margolin. The struggle for utopia: Rodchenko, Lissitzky, Moholy-Nagy. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1997 (p. 199)

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