Watching the red dawn

The American avant-garde and the Soviet Union

By Barnaby Haran

Watching the red dawn


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9722-5
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: April 2016
  • BIC Category: United States of America, USA, The arts / Art & design styles: c 1900 to c 1960, Art History, Renaissance style, Modernism, History of art, Early 20th century c 1900 to c 1950, ART / History / Renaissance, ART / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)


This book offers the first sustained examination of the cultural relations of the American and Soviet avant-gardes in a period of major transformation. From the formation of the USSR in 1922 until its recognition by the American government, American avant-garde artists, writers and designers watched the 'Red Dawn' with fascination, enthusiastically reporting on its post-revolutionary cultural developments in articles and books, and brought these works to an American audience in ground-breaking exhibitions. Americans also emulated and adapted aspects of Soviet culture, as in the case of the New Playwrights Theatre, a group that mixed Russian avant-garde theatrical techniques with jazz, vaudeville and slapstick comedy in plays about strikes and racial injustice. Figures discussed include Louis Lozowick, Jane Heap, Frederick Kiesler, Ralph Steiner, John dos Passos, Margaret Bourke-White and Langston Hughes.

Watching the red dawn takes an innovative interdisciplinary approach, considering these developments in architecture, theatre, film, photography and literature, and will be invaluable for students and specialists in these subject areas. It provides a new perspective on American avant-garde culture of the inter-war years.


Introduction: The red Atlantic
1. Constructivism in the USA: machine art and architecture at The Little Review exhibitions
2. The mass and the machine: The New Playwrights Theatre and American radical Constructivism
3. Kino in America: Soviet montage and the American cinematic avant-garde
4. Camera eyes: the worker photography movement and the New Vision in America
Conclusion: Red train journeys


Barnaby Haran is Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Hull

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