Soaring airplanes, a black bomb, a toppled red building, and a figure free-falling through space: although at first glance Rozanova’s collage of cutout shapes and linoleum-printed papers may look like an abstraction, in fact it illustrates the chaos of a bombing raid. The sheet is one of fifteen pages in the illustrated book Voina (War), which Rozanova produced with her companion and frequent collaborator, the Russian Futurist poet Aleksei Kruchenykh. She used the fractured, shifting forms of Cubism and Futurism to convey the mass confusion and destruction experienced in her native Russia during World War I.
For Rozanova and her generation of Russian artists, the book was a key site for radical experimentation. Working closely with poets, including Kruchenykh, to create an entirely new kind of handmade, often self-published book, they combined innovative poetry with deliberately crude illustrations that were meant to shock and to repudiate the tasteful refinement of traditional fine-press books. For Voina, Rozanova employed the new and unorthodox medium of linoleum cut, which she printed on cheap paper with uneven edges. The book marked a high point in Rozanova’s brief but illustrious career, which lasted only about a decade. She died of diphtheria in 1918.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)