Kazimir Malevich, Illustration for ''A Game in Hell''

Date: 1914
Technique: Lithography

The first edition of “A Game in Hell” poem by Alexey Kruchyonykh and Velimir Khlebnikhov was published in 1912. The illustrations for the first edition were made by Natalia Goncharova. In two years, in 1914 the second edition with illustrations by Kazimir Malevich and Olga Rozanova was printed. The second edition differed from the first in a bigger size, absence of punctuation, and strophes order. Nevertheless, both of them are striking examples of the book art of the Russian Avant-garde in 1910–1920s.

The subject of “A Game in Hell” is an image of the devil which was the ubiquitous topic in Russian art and literature in the first decades of the 20th century. The poem is an ironic sneer at the archaic image of the devil and concerns a card game between the devil and sinners. The narrative is made in a traditional for futurists manner of complicated, tangled language accompanied by the imagery by so called “Avant-garde amazons” Natalia Goncharova (first edition, 1912) and Olga Rozanova (second edition, 1914) and one of the core Russian Avant-garde artists Kazimir Malevich. The poem became the first fully lithographic book of the Russian Avant-garde. /Nastasia Rozhkova/

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