Beyond Symbolism and Surrealism

Trade Cloth – $69.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2617-6
Publication Date
January 2011
Page Count
286 pages
Trim Size
7 x 10

Beyond Symbolism and Surrealism

Alexei Remizov's Synthetic Art
Julia Friedman, Foreword by Avril Pyman

The great modernist eccentric Alexei Remizov was a “writers’ writer” whose innovative poetic prose has long since entered the Russian literary canon. Gradually expanding his working methods to make drawing an integral part of the writing process, during the 1930s and 1940s, Remizov created hundreds of albums that combined texts with collages and india ink and watercolor illustrations. In Beyond Symbolism and Surrealism, Julia Friedman provides the first extensive examination of the dynamic interplay between text and image in Remizov’s albums, revealing their coequal roles in his oneiric and synaesthetic brand of storytelling. A participant in the Russian symbolist movement, an intellectual ally of many futurists, and during his émigré years, a collaborator of the surrealists, Remizov had unique insight into artistic cultures of the European avant-garde. His reinterpretation of the medieval illuminated manuscripts carries forward the traditions of symbolist mysticism and


This long-overdue examination of Remizov’s visual art addresses modernism’s key theoretical questions surrounding the relationships between image and text. Beyond Symbolism and Surrealism introduces a generous sampling of Remizov’s graphic work, much of which is currently held in private collections.

About the Author

Julia Friedman is an assistant professor of art history at the School of International Liberal Studies at Waseda University in Tokyo.


"Julia Friedman is a lively and brilliant interpreter. Her swift-flowing argument and authoritative analysis present Remizov as a fascinating man who . . . was unable to separate writing from drawing. His intricately drawn and written albums are extremely rare. Friedman has investigated with meticulous care and astute intelligence albums from several important collections. This book offers her academic, literary, and art historical readers the fascinating rediscovery of a unique creative force."
--John Milner, Visiting Professor, The Courtauld Institute of Art

"Julia Friedman is the first art historian to explore Remizov's striking legacy of visual art. This landmark study of 'a model of synthetic art' by a visionary writer, exiled in Paris, places his brilliant work in the context of contemporary aesthetics and artists' books."

--Greta N. Slobin
Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz
Visiting Professor, College of Letters, Wesleyan University