Altogether 26 issues of 97 total published, most 4 pp. each, of the illustrated Soviet propaganda leaflet, distributed aerially over German-held territories from 1941 to 1945, reporting on catastrophic losses at the Eastern Front and urging German soldiers to surrender, with reproductions of grim photographs of violence and privation, often juxtaposed with images of the comforts of home, notable for its striking photomontages and typographic design, and including caricatures of Hitler and German generals. Paper size varied, some trimmed, most offset in various color halftones with red highlights, some scattered toning and creasing as expected, slight rubbing, No. 58 with a taped repair. 4to. Original illustrated self-wrpps. N.p. (Moscow?) 1942-1944.
The present grouping is an extremely rare collection of this scarce, irregularly published Soviet propaganda serial, known only in three partial holdings in North America. Front-Illustrierte was perhaps the most ambitious aerial propaganda series of WWII, maintaining its distinctive layout and almost exclusive use of photomontage over four years and close to 100 issues. The dramatic slogans promise misery and death to the Germans while the startling and sophisticated illustrations are evidence of the ongoing importance of Russian avantgarde iconography in Soviet art and its convincing repurposing as enemy propaganda toward an audience familiar with the visual techniques of international modernism. The photomontages were almost all the work of a single artist, Alexander Zhitomirsky, previously an art director for Illustrirovannaya Gaseta, the weekly illustrated supplement to Pravda. Zhitomirsky's compositions are a compelling combination of Constructivist devices no longer in use in Western Europe in the 1940s and the photomontage strategies practiced so successfully by John Heartfield in Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung [AIZ]. Zhitomirsky was strongly influenced by Heartfield (in fact, the name of Front Illustrierte Zeitung was deliberately chosen to echoed AIZ), and his work was later praised by Heartfield during a 1961 Berlin retrospective arranged to commemorate the legendary photographer's 70th birthday. (See Konstantin Akinsha, The Second Life of Soviet Photomontage, 1935-1980s, PhD diss., University of Edinburgh, 2012, pp. 249-279.). Book ID: 48993