To Be Read Aloud (Mayakovsky)
New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut. Gift of the Estate of George Deem, 2013. Accession Number 2013.54.138
| Image Notes
Inscribed by the artist on the reverse: George Deem / Mayakovsky / 50 X 54 inches / 127 X 137 cm / oil on canvas /1981; To left of the inscription is the title: "To Be Read Aloud"
Top row from left, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Photo by A. Sternberg, the last portrait of the poet at his "Twenty Years of Work" exhibition, Moscow, 1930; Vladimir Mayakovsky, Photo by Alexandr Rodchenko, Moscow, April 1924; Vladimir Mayakovsky, Photo by Alexandr Rodchenko, Moscow, April 1924.
Center of canvas: four double page spreads from For Reading Out Loud, a short selection of Mayakovsky's poems, produced in Berlin, published by RSFSR, The State Publishing House (Moscow?) 1923, Designs and layout by El Lissitsky (1890-1941). ("Lissitsky's design (for this book) is perhaps his finest piece of typography." Camilla Gray, The Great Experiment: Russian Art 1863-1922, Thames & Hudson, 1962, p. 253). From left 1. Double book page: "But Could You? I blurred at once the chart of trite routine by splashing paint with one swift motion. I showed upon a plate of brawny glutin the slanting cheekbones of the ocean. Upon the scales of tinny fishes new lips summoned, though yet mute. But could you play right to the finish a nocturne on a drainpipe flute? (transl. Herbert Marshall). 2. Double book page: "A Human Attitude To Horses" El Lissitsky includes only the first strophe: Horse-hoofs beating Repeating they plunk: "Grib Grab Grob Grub." (transl. Herbert Marshall). 3. Double book page. page left: ship. George Deem omits 3 words under the ship ("Left/Left/Left); page right: LEFT MARCH "For the Red Marines Rally the ranks into a march! Now's no time to quibble or browse there. Silence, you orators!" (transl. Herbert Marshall). 4. Double book page. AN EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURE WHICH HAPPENED TO ME VLADIMIR MAYAKOVSKY At the country cottage, Rumyantsev, Pushkino, Mount Akula, on theYaroslav Railway. The poem begins: "A hundred suns the sunset fired, into July summer shunted, it was so hot, even heat perspired -- it happened in the country." (transl. Herbert Marshall).
Bottom row. From left, Rodchenko's photo portrait of Mayakovsky seated on a chair designed by Rodchenko, Moscow, 1924; Osip Brik, Lili Brik, and Mayakovsky, 1929, unidentified photographer, print from negative sent to George Deem by Christiane Bauermeister, Berliner Festspiele, 17.2.81.
| Artist's Notes
Dear Tina, Thank you for the negative of Mayakovsky, Lili & Osip. How very special of you to think of me in such a delightful way. I have had xerox prints made from it; one for Marty Peitzke, a writer and poet very involved with Mayakovsky ... one for Tim Miller, a New York performing artist who last Fall did a series of performances called "Me and Mayakovsky;" and one for me. (George Deem, letter to Christiane Bauermeister, Berliner Festspiele, May 16, 1981)
On View Downtown Gallery, Indianapolis, Indiana
Broadcast Center Building, First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston, Massachusetts