Thursday, 15 September 2011

Publication: G: An Avant-Garde Journal

G: An Avant-Garde Journal of Art, Architecture, Design, and Film, 1923-1926
Edited by Detlef Mertins and Michael W. Jennings
Getty Research Institute : 2010
280 pages; 22 color and 134 b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-039-1.

First published in 1923, the journal G: Material zur Elementaren Gestaltung (G: Materials for Elemental Form-Creation) helped shape a new phase in the history of the European avant-garde. Founded by Hans Richter, a pioneer of abstract animated film, G featured works by some of the important names in the advanced cultures of Europe: Hans Arp, Walter Benjamin, Theo van Doesburg, Viking Eggeling, Naum Gabo, Werner Graeff, George Grosz, Hugo Häring, Raoul Hausmann, Ludwig Hilberseimer, Frederick Kiesler, El Lissitzky, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Antoine Pevsner, Man Ray, and Tristan Tzara.

This edition, the first in English translation, preserves the original design by Lissitzky, Richter, and Graeff, and includes essays that explore the role of the journal in its time and in relation to contemporary culture. An introduction analyzes the principles of the journal, situates it in the culture of the early 1920s, and evaluates its achievements.

This book is structured into two parts: first, a series of essays which provide analysis on the major areas of visual culture explored in G and second, the translated-to-English facsimile of the journal itself. With an overview which situates G and its major contributors in historical context begins the essay portion of the book. Other essays follow, one on each subject in the book’s title: Maria Gough on El Lissitzky’s contributions to G’s graphic design; subsequent essays by Edward Dimendberg on film, and Detlef Mertins on architecture, are also well-researched and informative.

In the second part of the book, a carefully constructed facsimile of G is presented, that is true to original documents held in the Museum of Modern Art, except the German text was translated into English.

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