USSR in Construction, No. 5-6, 1938

Far Eastern Territory

This was the first USSR in Construction I came across, in the back room of a used book and magazine shop on what was then Vancouver’s skid row.  It had no cover but was otherwise in pretty good shape.  This issue was designed by El Lissitsky and Sophie Kuppers.

This montage and the next one are mounted, framed and hangning on the wall of my office.  Sorry for the glare and reflection from the glass.

The fellow on the left is Marshall of the Soviet Union Vassily Blyukher, commander of the Special Red Banner Eastern Army, the army of the Far Eastern Territory that kept up the Soviet side the low-level war with Japan throughout the 1930’s.

This version of the photomontage is reproduced in ‘El Lissitzky: Beyond the Abstract Cabinet: Photography, Design, Collaboration’ by Margarita Tupitsyn, Yale University Press, 1999.  In 1938 Blyukher lost his post as Marshall of the Soviet Union, and was arrested late in that year.  Blyukher was purged soon after, but was officially ‘fighting in China under a pseudonym’.  I don’t know any more about the circumstances of the publishing  of this issue and when the substitution of Marshall for sailor and pilot took place.

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