Special Collections at the University of Washington Libraries has had the good fortune to receive a donation of about 150 illustrated Russian children's books, ranging from the pre-revolutionary era through the Soviet period. These books were collected by Pamela Harer and donated by Pamela Harer's family in 2016.
The books in this exhibition should be of interest not just to scholars of children's literature, but also to artists, art historians, librarians, scholars of European history, specialists in Slavic studies, and members of the general public seeking to learn more about early twentieth-century culture and children's books. The illustrations echo the avant-garde movements of their day, and highlight the intricate relation between image and text central to this era.
The pre-revolutionary works embody the Russian version of Art Nouveau, mingling Western stylized ornament with motifs from native folk art and popular broadsides. The Soviet books from the 1920s exemplify the artists' revolutionary attempt to re-educate the younger generation by visual means, borrowing from Suprematism, Constructivism, and propaganda poster art. These unique books are not only for children but are also works of art in themselves.