Sofia Gurevich - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Sofia Gurevich

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Sofia Gurevich

PhD student

Thesis: The form and content of the early Soviet book: a study through the country’s publishing industry institutions of the 1920s and 1930s

Supervised by Dr Klara Kemp-Welch (Courtauld) and Dr Matthew Gale (Tate Modern)

Funded by Arts & Humanities Research Council Collaborative Doctoral Award

My PhD research is an inquiry into how Soviet artists, including those from outside the Constructivist camp, generally seen in Western scholarship as its exclusive innovators, have approached the topic of early Soviet book design.

I will explore how the artists of varied theoretical and stylistic affiliations contributed to the issue of interrelation between form and content within the early Soviet book, in view of its multiple function as a tool of enlightenment, an instrument of agitation and a promoter of the Soviet regime’s reputation abroad. The investigation will be carried out through a study of major institutions related to the country’s burgeoning publishing industry. These will include the editorial processes within major publishing houses of Moscow and Petrograd/Leningrad, including The State Publishing House (Gosizdat), World Literature (Vsemirnaia literatura) and Academia; the international activity of the publishing branch of the All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (VOKS); and the teaching of graphic art and book design at The Higher Art and Technical Studios (VKhuTEMAS) and its successor, VKhuTEIN, both in Moscow and Leningrad.

One of the artists, whose work will be reassessed in light of this research, is Vladimir Favorskii, a Soviet wood engraver, book artist and professor of the VKhUTEMAS’s polygraphic faculty, who has been almost entirely overlooked in Western scholarship, and whose book-related activity throughout the 1920s was in many ways a lot closer to that of the Constructivists, than has generally been considered.


  • 2015—present: PhD in the History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London
  • 2014—2015: MA in the History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London (Distinction)
    • Specialist Option: Contacts and Contexts in Russian Art c. 1905—1945 (supervised by Dr Maria Mileeva)
    • MA Dissertation Topic: Neoclassicism in Soviet Russia during the 1920s and 1930s: A Case of Reception Through Criticism
  • 2011—2012: Graduate Diploma in the History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London
  • 2007—2011: BSc International Business (with French), Warwick Business School, University of Warwick

Research interests

  • Russian and Soviet Painting and Graphic Art
  • Soviet Book Design and Illustration
  • Soviet Visual Culture
  • Periodical Studies
  • Print Culture
  • Soviet Ephemera

Other academic activity

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