For the Voice


For the Voice, a collection of poems by Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893–1930), was published in Berlin in 1923 in collaboration with the artist Lazar Lisitskii (better known as El Lisitski, 1890–1941). The poems were meant to be read aloud and reflected themes favored by Mayakovsky in the period after the Russian Revolution of 1917: anger with the idle and satiated bourgeoisie, compassion for the struggle of the common people, and the call for an “army of the arts” to help fight the struggle against the old order. The book is an outstanding example of collaboration between poet and artist. Lisitskii, who is credited as the creator of the book, provided visual interpretation of Mayakovsky’s poems. The titles of the poems, presented in small tabs arranged vertically on the right side of the pages, offer a clever guide to the content. Each poem is accompanied by a dynamic visual composition in which geometric elements are infused with symbolic meaning. Printed letters in red and black tones become pictorial signs, contributing to each poem’s identity. Mayakovsky was born in Georgia, but, after his father’s death in 1906, moved with his family to Moscow where he became active in left-wing politics. He embraced the revolution not only for the economic and social changes it would bring, but as a gateway to freedom of art and individual expression. After the revolution, he wrote scripts for films and designed propaganda posters for the Russian Telegraph Agency (ROSTA). In addition to poems charged with social and political content, Mayakovsky wrote lyric verse about love and reflection. Increasingly disillusioned with the Soviet Union under the dictator Josef Stalin, he committed suicide on April 14, 1930.

Last updated: March 7, 2014