The Futurist Files
Avant-Garde, Politics, and Ideology in Russia, 1905–1930
“Glisic writes in a clear and highly readable style and does an admirable job of bringing together a huge
number of primary and secondary sources. The scholarship is sound and the content is well organized.” —Margaret Samu, coeditor of From Realism to the Silver Age: New Studies in Russian Artistic Culture
Futurism was Russia’s first avant-garde movement. Gatecrashing the Russian
public sphere in the early twentieth century, the movement called for the destruction of everything old, so that the past could not hinder the creation of a new, modern society. Over the next two decades, the protagonists of Russian Futurism pursued their goal of modernizing human experience through radical art.
The success of this mission has long been the subject of scholarly debate.
Critics have often characterized Russian Futurism as an expression of utopian daydreaming by young artists who were unrealistic in their visions of
Soviet society and naďve in their comprehension of the Bolshevik
political agenda. By tracing the political and ideological evolution of Russian Futurism between 1905 and 1930, Iva Glisic challenges this view, demonstrating that Futurism took a calculated and systematic approach to its contemporary socio-political reality. This approach ultimately allowed Russia’s Futurists to devise a unique artistic practice that would later become an integral element
of the distinctly Soviet cultural paradigm.
Drawing upon a unique combination of archival materials and employing
a theoretical framework inspired by the works of philosophers such as Lewis Mumford, Karl Mannheim, Ernst Bloch, Fred Polak, and Slavoj Žižek, The Futurist Files presents Futurists not as blinded idealists, but rather as active and judicious participants in the larger project of building a modern Soviet consciousness. This fascinating study ultimately stands as a reminder that while radical ideas are often dismissed as utopian, and impossible,
they did—and can—have a critical role in driving social change. It will be of interest to art historians, cultural historians, and scholars and students of Russian history.
October 2018, $39.00 s
Paper, 6x9, 220 pages, 19 illus.
Iva Glisic is a historian of twentieth-century Russia and the Balkans.
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