Nicolas Iszelenof

(1891 - 1981)


Nicolas Iszelenof

Berliner Strassentypen

Berlin street characters

Berlin: Trirema Verlag, 1922

270 x 210 mm.  pages nn.

Edition: 100. Copy nr. 9



After arriving in Berlin Iszelenof spent full time on his graphic art, which he published himself. During the short existence of his publishing firm Trirema two lithographed books and two portfolio’s made by Iszelenof were published. Berlin Street Characters is an example of such a portfolio (the other being Moscow characters). For the cover the artist designed a woodcut. The lithographs inside are printed on thin paper which has been mounted on thicker, luxurious paper. These are bound together as if it were a book. In fact it can be considered a book, rather than a portfolio; a book without text. The images depict street vendors and musicians. They tell the story of life at the bottom of society. This life was quite familiar to Russians living in Berlin. The story shown in the images is neither cynical nor critical, such as the pictures of Georges Grosz. It is a conscious and esthetical depiction of poverty, without any comment. As Iszelenof himself wrote:

Art does not look only for beauty but also for poetry and philosophy

If there is nothing but beauty, it is emptiness

If it looks for philosophical thought without beauty, it is dullness

If it looks for poetry without beauty and philosophy, it is foolishness



Rovamiemi 2001, p. 103

Brussels 2008, p. 34