For the Voice or For Reading Out Loud
El Lissitzky (illustrated by)
Vladimir Mayakovsky (poems by)
Gosizdat; Berlin, Germany
Dlya Golosa (For the Voice) was created in 1923 and is a collaborative piece by Vladimir Mayakovsky and El Lissitzky (Ayiter [sa]:[sp]). Mayakovsky contributed the poetry which filled the book and Lissitzky combined topography with geometric shapes as a means of building symbols, ‘clip art’, and negative space (Ayiter [sa]:[sp]).
The book was created during the time of the rise of Stalin which served as an influence in Lissitzky’s work (Ellen [sa]:[sp]). Elements of the book are made up of hues of red, black and white, indicative of the hues Supremacist campaigns used (Ayiter [sa]:[sp]). Lissitzky based his ideas closely on Constructivist ideology, namely tectonics, texture, and the “principles of construction” (Ellen [sa]:[sp]).
The fact that Mayakovsky’s poems are intended to be read aloud reflects the Constructivist theme of anger and the calling for an ‘army of the arts’ to assist in fighting against the old order (Ayiter [sa]: [sp]). The poems are meant to be seen and heard. And so, the construction of each page is based on the notion that each poem is read aloud, creating a narrative with the forms, colour, typography and layering (Ellen [sa]:[sp]). These geometric elements and typographic interpretations of the poems not only create “dynamic visual compositions” but are infused with symbolic meaning (Ayiter [sa]:[sp]). The printed letters become pictorial signs that develop each poem’s identity (Ayiter [sa]: [sp]).
Illustrated throughout by Lissitzky, it is bound in the original publisher’s thick orange wrappers also designed by Lissitzky. Dlya Golosa is widely considered to be Lissitzky’s masterpiece of modern typography. It remains one of the cornerstones of any collection of Russian Futurist books. Lissitzky designed title-pages for each of Mayakovsky’s poems, which are some of his most frequently quoted poetic works, including Left March, Ramble, The Third International, The Art Army, Love and The Story of Red Riding Hood.
Lissitzky-Kuppers (1994:108) states:
Lissitzky described the inspiration that prompted the innovative design of Dlya Golosa in his essay Typographical Facts: 'To make it easier for the reader to find any particular poem, I use an alphabetical (i.e. thumb-indexed) index. The book is created with the resources of the compositor’s type case alone. The possibilities of two-colour printing (overlap, cross hatching and so on) have been exploited to the full. My pages stand in much the same relation to the poems as an accompanying piano to a violin. Just as the poet in his poem unites concept and sound, I have tried to create an equivalent unity using the poem and typography'. A fine copy of a very fragile book which is very scarce in any condition
Ayiter, E. [sa]. Homage to El Lissitzky. [O]. Available: http://www.homage-to-el-lissitzky.com/for-the-voice
Ellen, A. [sa]. The Nature of Representation in the work of El Lissitzky. [O]. Available:
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