Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Illustrated Book by Dimitry Bisti

This book was found in a public library booksale several years ago. Its strange shape/size first grabbed my attention, at 8 in. x 16 in., it is incredibly tall and skinny (Maybe I saw something of myself in it?). It is beautifully done, split about equally between text and image. It was published by Editorial Raduga, in Moscow in 1984. The text is a poem called Lenin, written by Vladimir Mayakovsky. Mayakovsky was a Russian Futurist poet and playwright, active in the 1910s and 20s. This poem is generally known as his greatest work. Although a Russian poem, the text in this edition is in Spanish.

The illustrator is a Russian man named Dmitry Bisti, who from the 1960s onwards was one of the Soviet Union's leading book illustrators. He was an influential professor at Moscow State University in the 1980s. Born in 1925, he passed away at the age of 65 in 1990. More of his work can be seen here: http://visualrian.ru/en/site/search/?q=bisti

Its not clear if Bisti had a hand in the design/typography/layout of the book as well, or if he just supplied illustrations to spec. The type and image are integrated so well, however, that it seems like he probably played a large part in the entire design of the book. The book utilizes only three colors; white, black, and red, and is very successful in its alternation of full spreads of text, spreads with only one large image, and spreads with smaller spot illustrations cleverly integrated with blocks of text. The type is arranged consistently in all Helvetica Black, and in a staircase pattern with one to eight words per 'step'. Im not sure if this was the designer's decision, or if the original poem was composed in this way. Overall, its one of the strongest, most playful, and most successful mergings of type and imagery I have ever come across.  

Beautiful plain red and black endpapers, black for-edge, and a red bound bookmark.

From about three quarters of the way through the book to the end, the pages are completely red with black images and type. Although I was not able to read the text, this seems to be the part of Lenin's story where he takes power and the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic is formed.


  1. I have a copy of this same book that my grandfather brought back from USSR in 1984. Have you learned anything more about this book?