Dlia golosa (For the Voice) (1923)


We’ve been sitting on this one for a while. How does one write a description for a book that’s in just about every single survey of graphic design? We’re just gonna copy and paste with abandon. Published in 1923, the concrete poetry book For the Voice can be described as El Lissitzky’s tour de force of textual visualization. In collaboration with Vladimir Mayakovsky who contributed the poems, El Lissitzky brought type together with geometric shapes that were used to build symbols (such as the Communist hammer and sickle), clip art (such as the pointing finger that can be found on several pages of the book) and copious amounts of white space that helped push these elements to the foreground—all of which were colorized in the suprematist hues of red, black and white—in order to achieve a book of poems that were meant to be seen rather than read. (All that was from here.) And now from MoMA: Lissitzky's innovations in graphic and book design are strikingly visible in his landmark project For the Voice, a collection of thirteen of the best-known poems by Russian Futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. The poems were intended to be read aloud, and Lissitzky designed a thumb index with titles to help the reader quickly locate a desired verse. He also designed title pages for each of the poems, constructing images by combining typefaces of various sizes printed in red and black.

This copy came to us from Inge Druckrey and we’ve had a beautiful new box made. Super-special. Watch a little movie »

  • Author: Vladimir Mayakovsky
  • Size: 5.125 × 7.375 inches
  • Pages: 61
  • Binding: Bound in original publisher’s thick orange wrappers designed by Lissitzky, housed in a new cloth box
  • Language: Russian
  • Condition: The cover is soiled and marked, but about as one would expect for something this old. There are some light pencil notations on the inside back cover and a faded stamp, but neither are distracting. 
  • Publisher: Lutze & Vogt, 1923