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Selected covers of the journal.

LEF [ЛЕФ] was the journal of the Left Front of the Arts [Левый фронт искусств; Levy Front Iskusstv], a wide-ranging association of avant-garde writers, photographers, critics and designers in the Soviet Union. It had two runs, one from 1923 to 1925 as LEF, and later from 1927 to 1928 as Novyi LEF [New LEF]. The journal's objective, as set out in one of its first issues, was to "re-examine the ideology and practices of so-called leftist art, and to abandon individualism to increase art's value for developing communism."

Although LEF was catholic in its choices of writers, it broadly reflected the concerns of the Productivist left-wing of Constructivism. The editors were Osip Brik and Vladimir Mayakovsky: fittingly, one a Russian Formalist critic and one a poet and designer who helped compose the 1912 manifesto of Russian Futurists, entitled A Slap in the Face of Public Taste. The covers were designed by Alexander Rodchenko, and featured photomontages early on, being followed by photographs in New LEF. Among the writings published in LEF for the first time were Mayakovsky's long poem "About This" (turned into a book), and Sergei Eisenstein's The "Montage of Attractions", as well as more political and journalistic works like Isaac Babel's "Red Cavalry". The journal had funding from the state, and was discussed critically, but not unsympathetically by Leon Trotsky in Literature and Revolution (1924).

The later New LEF [Новый ЛЕФ; Novyi Lef], which was edited by Mayakovsky along with the playwright, screenplay writer and photographer Sergei Tretyakov, tried to popularise the idea of "Factography": the idea that new technologies such as photography and film should be utilised by the working class for the production of 'factographic' works. In this it had a great deal of influence on theorists in the West, especially Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht. Linked journals also appeared such as the Constructivist architectural journal SA (edited by Moisei Ginzburg and Alexander Vesnin) and Proletarskoe Foto, on photography. The New LEF closed in 1929 over a dispute over its direction between Mayakovsky and Tretyakov, and under pressure for its "Formalism", which jarred with the incipient Socialist Realism.

In 1924-25, an affiliated magazine, Yugo-LEF, was published in Odessa with L. Nedolya as editor and Semyon Kirsanov as key contributor. [1] [2]

A selection of texts in English translation appeared in the Winter 1971-72 issue of Screen.



LEF 1 (Mar 1923), 252+[1] pp. PDF, PDF (192 mb), HTML.
LEF 2 (Apr-May 1923), 177+[3] pp. PDF (8 mb), HTML.
LEF 3 (Jun-Jul 1923), 186+[6] pp. PDF, PDF (202 mb), HTML.
LEF 4 (Aug-Dec 1923), 222+[2] pp. PDF, PDF (227 mb), HTML.
LEF 5/II-1 (1924), 159+[1] pp. PDF (7 mb), HTML.
LEF 6/II-2 (1924), 157+[1] pp. PDF, PDF (148 mb), HTML.
LEF 7/II-3 (1925), 143+[1] pp. PDF (6 mb), HTML.

Novyi LEF[edit]

Novyi LEF 1 (1927). PDF, PDF (54 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 2 (1927). PDF (3 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 3 (1927). PDF, PDF (54 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 4 (1927). PDF, PDF (55 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 5 (1927). PDF (3 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 6 (1927). PDF (3 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 7 (1927). PDF (3 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 8-9 (1927). PDF (5 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 10 (1927). PDF (3 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 11-12 (1927). PDF (5 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 1 (1928). PDF (3 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 2 (1928). PDF (5 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 3 (1928). PDF (4 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 4 (1928). PDF (4 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 5 (1928). PDF (5 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 6 (1928). PDF, PDF (55 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 7 (1928). PDF, PDF (58 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 8 (1928). PDF, PDF (57 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 9 (1928). PDF (6 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 10 (1928). PDF (4 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 11 (1928). PDF (4 mb), HTML.
Novyi LEF 12 (1928). PDF, PDF (60 mb), HTML.

Full-color PDFs (files larger than 10 mb) are sourced and linked from Bibliothèque Kandinsky, [3].


Tables of contents of 7 numbers of Lef and 24 numbers of Novyi Lef with links to HTML versions on the SovLit website.


Леф. 1923 N 1
Леф. 1923 N 2
Леф. 1923 N 3
Леф. 1923 N 4
Леф. 1924 N 5/II-1
Леф. 1924 N 6/II-2
Леф. 1925 N 7/II-3

Novyi LEF[edit]

Новый Леф. 1927 N 1
Новый Леф. 1927 N 2
Новый Леф. 1927 N 3
Новый Леф. 1927 N 4
Новый Леф. 1927 N 5
Новый Леф. 1927 N 6
Новый Леф. 1927 N 7
Новый Леф. 1927 N 8-9
Новый Леф. 1927 N 10
Новый Леф. 1927 N 11-12
Новый Леф. 1928 N 1
Новый Леф. 1928 N 2
Новый Леф. 1928 N 3
Новый Леф. 1928 N 4
Новый Леф. 1928 N 5
Новый Леф. 1928 N 6
Новый Леф. 1928 N 7
Новый Леф. 1928 N 8
Новый Леф. 1928 N 9
Новый Леф. 1928 N 10
Новый Леф. 1928 N 11
Новый Леф. 1928 N 12

Selections and translations[edit]

  • Literatura fakta: perviy sbornik materialov rabotnikov LEFa [Литература факта: первый сборник материалов работников ЛЕФа], ed. N.F. Chuzhak, 1929; Moscow: Zakharov, 2000, 289 pp, HTML. [4] (Russian)
  • "Introduction to 'LEF', Journal of the Left Front of the Arts, 1923-25", intro. & trans. Richard Sherwood, Form 10, Brighton, 1969, pp 27ff. [5] (English)
  • Screen 12(4): Documents from LEF and Novy LEF, trans., ed. & intro. Richard Sherwood (LEF) and Ben Brewster (Novy LEF), London, Winter 1971-72, pp 25-102. The LEF section first appeared in Form 10. (English)
  • Coiled Verbal Spring: Devices of Lenin's Language, ed. Sezgin Boynik, trans. Thomas Campbell and Mikko Viljanen, Helsinki: Rab-Rab Press, 2017, 368 pp. A selection of Russian Formalist and Futurist writings from LEF (1924) on Lenin's revolutionary language. [6] (English)


  • Jiří Weil, "Vznik Lefu", ReD 1:2, Prague: Odeon, Nov 1927, pp 83-85. (Czech)
  • Halina Stephan, "The Rediscovery of the Left Front of the Arts in the 1960s and 1970s", Canadian-American Slavic Studies 13:3 (1979), pp 332-349. [7] (English)
  • Halina Stephan, “Lef” and the Left Front of the Arts, Munich: Otto Sagner, 1981, 242 pp. Review: Graffy (SEER 1983). (English)
  • S.O. Khan-Magomedov (С.О. Хан-Магомедов), Yugo-Lef i konstruktivizm (po materialam arkhiva N. Sokolova) [Юго-Леф и конструктивизм (по материалам архива Н. Соколова)], Moscow: Ladya, 2000, 227 pp. (Russian)
  • October 118: "Soviet Factography", ed. Devin Fore, MIT Press, Fall 2006. (English)
  • Alena Yablonskaya (Алена Яворская), "Yugolef (po materialam fondov OLM)" [ЮГОЛЕФ (по материалам фондов ОЛМ)], Moriya 6 (2006). (Russian)
  • Yaroslav Dmitriyevich Zagorets, Periodicheskiye izdaniya LEF: istoriya, teoriya i praktika [Периодические издания ЛЕФ:история,теория и практика], 2012, 140 pp. Dissertation. [8] (Russian)
  • Emily Finer, "'A rift on the left front': Lef (1923-5) and Na postu (1923-5)", in The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Vol. 3: Europe 1880-1940, Oxford University Press, 2013. [9] (English)
  • Renée-Claude Landry, Revolution by Design: Photography & Graphic Applications Mobilized by Constructivist Aleksandr Rodchenko in the 1920's Soviet Journal "Novy Lef", Montréal: Université du Québec, 2013. Dissertation. (English)

See also[edit]


Avant-garde and modernist magazines

Poesia (1905-09, 1920), Der Sturm (1910-32), Blast (1914-15), The Egoist (1914-19), The Little Review (1914-29), 291 (1915-16), MA (1916-25), De Stijl (1917-20, 1921-32), Dada (1917-21), Noi (1917-25), 391 (1917-24), Zenit (1921-26), Broom (1921-24), Veshch/Gegenstand/Objet (1922), Die Form (1922, 1925-35), Contimporanul (1922-32), Secession (1922-24), Klaxon (1922-23), Merz (1923-32), LEF (1923-25), G (1923-26), Irradiador (1923), Sovremennaya architektura (1926-30), Novyi LEF (1927-29), ReD (1927-31), Close Up (1927-33), transition (1927-38).