Boris Arvatov's Art and Production is a classic of the early Soviet avant-garde. Now nearing a century since its first publication, it is a crucial intervention for those seeking to understand the social dynamic of art and revolution during the period.
Derived from the internal struggles of Soviet Constructivism, as it confronted the massive problems of cultural transformation after 'War Communism', Arvatov's writing is a major force in the split that occurred in the revolutionary horizons of Constructivism in the early 1920s. Critical of early Constructivism's social-aesthetic process of art's transformation of daily life - epitomised in studio-based painting, photography and object making - Arvatov polemicises for the devolution of artistic skills directly into the relations of production and the factory.
Whilst acknowledging the problems of a pure factory-based Productivism, Arvatov remains overwhelmingly committed to a new role and function for art outside the conventional studio and traditional gallery. Addressing issues such as artistic labour and productive labour, the artist as technician, art and multidisciplinarity and a life for art beyond 'art' - finding new relevance amidst the extensive social turn of contemporary participatory art - Art and Production offers a timely and compelling manifesto.
Boris Arvatov (1896-1940) was a leading figure and a leading theorist in the post-revolutionary Soviet avant garde - a movement that is being urgently reassessed by present day cultural theorists and academics. He is the author of the classic, Art and Production (Pluto, 2017). John Roberts is Professor of Art and Aesthetics at the University of Wolverhampton. He is the author of a number of books, including The Intangibilities of Form (Verso, 2007), Philosophising the Everyday (Pluto, 2006) and Revolutionary Time and the Avant-Garde (Verso, 2016). He edited the English translation of Boris Arvatov's classic Art and Production (Pluto, 2017). Alexei Penzin, is Reader in the School of Art at the University of Wolverhampton and Research Associate at the Institute of Philosophy in Moscow. He is a member of interdisciplinary collective Chto Delat. He is the author of Against the Continuum (Bloomsbury, 2017) and co-editor of Art and Production (Pluto, 2017).
Introduction by John Roberts Part I: Capitalism and Artistic Production 1. The Form of Artistic Production 2. Art and Craft 3. Art under Conditions of Commodity Capitalism 4. Artist Manufactories in time of Royal Absolutism 5. Applied Art of Machinic Capitalism 6. Technical Intelligentsia and Emergence of New Forms 7. Architecture Part II: Easel Art 1. Genealogy of Easel Art 2. Degradation of Sculpture 3. Painting 4. Fleeing from the Easel 5. Constructivism Part III: Art and Production in the History of the Labour Movement 1. Petty-bourgeois Utopianism 2. Art and the October Revolution 3. Productionist Art and LEF Part IV: Art in the System of Proletarian Culture 1. Methodology 2. Technique 3. Collaboration in Art 4. Ideology of Artists 5. Art and Everyday Life 6. Shaping Capacity of Art Afterword by Alexei Penzin