Wonderlands of the Avant-Garde

Paper Text – $39.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3611-3

Cloth Text – $99.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2894-1
Publication Date
April 2013
Page Count
322 pages
Trim Size
6.125 x 8.25

Wonderlands of the Avant-Garde

Technology and the Arts in Russia of the 1920s
Julia Vaingurt

In postrevolutionary Russia, as the Soviet government pursued rapid industrialization, avant-garde artists declared their intent to serve the nascent state and to transform life in accordance with their aesthetic designs. Despite their utilitarian intentions, however, most avant-gardists rarely created works regarded as practical instruments of societal transformation. Exploring this paradox, Vaingurt claims that the artists’ fusion of technology and aesthetics prevented their creations from being fully conscripted into the arsenal of political hegemony. The purposes of avant-garde technologies, she contends, are contemplative rather than constructive. Looking at Meyerhold’s theater, Tatlin’s and Khlebnikov’s architectural designs, Mayakovsky’s writings, and other works from the period, Vaingurt offers an innovative reading of an exceptionally complex moment in the formation of Soviet culture. 

About the Author

Julia Vaingurt is an assistant professor in the Department of Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


"Discussing the technological underpinnings and wild ambitions of early Soviet artists, Vaingurt expertly probes 'the hybrid of art and technology' that emerged in 1920s avant-garde literature, theater design, sculpture, and cinema...Wonderlands of the Avant-Garde proves quite informative and perceptive…A compelling, ingenious portrait of early Soviet creativity." —Slavic Review

"Julia Vaingurt’s innovative and exhaustively researched monograph effectively sets out to reclaim Wonderland on behalf of the Russian avant-garde. It enriches current scholarly investigation (by Anindita Banerjee and Katarina Clark, among others) of the unexpected diversity and internationalism of early Soviet culture." —The Slavonic and East European Review