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“Satires” by Sasha Cherny, collected poems 1907-1922

© Thesis, book design and illustrations

by Diana Bychkova.


The theme of the thesis: “The combination of photos, drawings and author’s manuscripts in the book illustration”.

It is written on the basis of the thesis on Russian Futurists poets.

Years of creation: 2002 - 2003, reworked in 2010. 

Illustrations and book design for the collected poems "Satires" by Sasha Chorny.

The book project is ready for publication.


 Sasha Chorny.

 Poet, novelist and translator, Alexander Glikberg, was born in Odessa in 1880, wrote under the pseudonym Sasha Cherniy (in the translation – Black). He lived and worked in St. Petersburg and in Paris (where he died in 1932). Cherniy devoted his life to literature, collaborated with numerous satirical St. Petersburg’s magazines. His sarcastic observations, addressed to the state regime, politics and everyday life, appeared one after another.

Collection of poems, "Satires", with an ironic dedication "To all the poor of spirit" presents a satirical mask of a small intellectual philistine man, bears the pettiness, emptiness and monotony of life, full of anxieties in all spheres of social and literary existence, mixing sarcasm with notes of pessimism, and not devoid of delicacy.

These poems, having clarity of thought and “appetizing” precision in the literary epithets and comparisons, are still actual today.


Book project.

 The collection "Satires" contains 121 verses, the book is divided into 7 chapters: "To all the poor of spirit", "The way of life", "The Augean stables or literary workshop", "The forced tribute", "The epistles", "The Province", "The lyrical satires".

Before each section there is: 1 small illustration on the title page of the chapter, a double-page illustration and 1 drawing on the back. In total there are 7 double-page frontispieces, 14 pages with separate illustrations, title, ending, colophon.

In addition, there are pages printed on semitransparent pages with drawings, which provide for easy reading without making the book too "hard" to perceive.

The illustrations were created in a technique of collage: a combination of my ink drawings with photographs of the St. Petersburg’s newspapers 1907-1922 years, which allowed me to create a modern "reading" of poetry, without losing the connection to the author’s epoch.


Comment to the illustrations.

 The technique of montage in the illustration promotes creative thought and organizes the internal connection between the descriptions in the poetry action, the author’s epoch and illustrator, and book space.

The principle of montage is even more interesting, when it turned to the language of symbols, metaphors, associations (both literary and visual) that are not linked directly with each other, but through the general idea, which remains over the scenes, between the lines.

To achieve a psychological and philosophical depth by simple graphical techniques is more difficult than using special expressive effects and colors. A graphic artist has to be simple and clear: he has just a piece of white paper and black ink, and he should be able to “say” all using these minimum tools. Black and white ink graphic is similar to poetry. If something in prose is described by a whole page, the same is compressed to a few lines in poetry. Thus, the verse is more concentrated (like an essence of perfume), the image is more figurative and emotional, completed like a formula, a symbol. The work acquires an artistic expression, because of the fullness “between the lines” – the meaning that was carefully elaborated by the author and then abbreviated. The depth (intensity) of work comes from here: the working in several steps, transformed then into poetic brevity.

That is what I was trying to achieve in the illustrations for Sasha Cherniy’s poems.






Avant - title page


Title page


Some of the pictures for the beginning of each chapter 


Two-page illustrations