comprising 5 ink drawings, 4 woodcuts, 2 wood-engravings signed by the artist, 1 lithograph and 2 engraved exhibition announcements, and a collection of 42 children’s books bound by Tarkhanov, of which 25 have hand-painted or collaged designs to the bindings
Mikhail Tarkhanov was a student at the Avant-Garde academy Vkhutemas where he specialised in typography and printing. He exhibited work in Moscow in 1919 and again in 1926 with an exhibition in Paris in 1931. Working as an illustrator and graphic artist he was particularly interested in designs for endpapers and bindings. This remarkable collection of his work is fascinating in its breadth from the bold linear Constructivist designs to the wonderful coloured designs painted or collaged on the bindings of the children’s books.
It was in 1910 that Russian artists turned to book production and typography in order to throw out the old bourgeois ways - books were printed sideways, on cheap paper or old wallpaper, covers were hand-drawn and the text was lettered by hand and lithographed. Typographic experiments abounded, with the work of Lissitzky, Burliuk, Kruchenykh and Zdanevich being well-known, but in fact the lesser known Tarkhanov was “considerably more involved in typographic artistry than [his] more widely-recognised colleagues” (Jared Ash, “The Letter as such: Aleksei Kruchenykh as closet typographer”, Hidden Typography, Friends of St Bride Printing Library Conference).
The children’s books, all published between 1923-1936, with the majority 1929-1930, include titles by R. Akulshin, V. Bianchi, S. Chernyi, E. Danko, S. Fedorchenko, O. Kapitsa, D. Katz, I. and D. Kolobov, R. Kravtsova, A. Kulbi, S. Marshak, S. Pokrovsky, M. Prishvin, C. Roberts, N. Sakonskaya, B. Shatilov, V. Tambellini, F. Tkacheva, L. Tolstoy, B. Zhitkov and L. Zilov, also books of Changing Faces, Riddles and Periodicals (a full list is available upon request). All are illustrated and have been placed in a card binding by Tarkhanov. Twenty five of these then have further hand-painted or collaged designs added to the card covers resulting in a rainbow of decorated bindings.
Also included is a copy of Tarkhanov’s book Forzatsy [Flyleaves], Moscow, 1929, published in an edition of 100 copies (The Russian Avant-Garde Book 836).
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