Nikolái Vasílievich Ilín (Nizhni Nòvgorod, Russia, 1894 - Moscow, 1954) is a pioneer of graphic art in Russia. His contribution to the field of editorial design is virtually unknown beyond Russia's borders. In his native country he enjoyed popularity and prestige in his later years, where he held the post of artistic director at the State Publishing House of Literature in the Soviet Union. However, his early achievements, very directly related to the avant-garde, have not been sufficiently recognised. This exhibition at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía shows a selection of his work from his childhood drawings made in 1909 to the designs produced in important editions during his Moscovite stage of the Thirties.
The book, used to disseminate written knowledge, broadens its use as a format and develops variations as it becomes an object of art. Therefore, there are differences between the livre d’artiste andartist's book - the first contains etchings, lithographs, screen prints and xylographs engraved by hand, and is published in limited, numbered editions that are intended for collectors. One of the earliest examples is Pierre Bonnard's Parallèlement (1900), containing poems by Paul Verlaine. However, the artist's book is developed later; the artist that devises it is interested in the book as a format and its access to a wider public with large print runs at a low cost. Twenty-six Gasoline Stations (1962) by Ed Ruscha is is one of the first examples of this genre.