Author(s): Natalia Sidlina
In exploring the intersection of art, politics and society, few collections in the world can compare with the David King collection. David King (1943-2016) was not only a passionate collector, but also an artist, designer and historian. Over a lifetime he amassed one of the world's largest collections of Soviet political art and photographs. Every step of the Soviet journey is documented in visual media, photomontage, photographs, paintings, handwritten notes, books (signed with annotations and marginalia), enclosures and ephemera. The collection is also unique in examples of image manipulation techniques, erasures and deletions, and in the survival, despite the purges, of extremely rare books and manuscripts by the early revolutionaries who died in the `Show Trials' of 1936-38. David King mined this material to produce revelatory and award-winning books on Leon Trotsky and the Stalin era, and in 2017 Tate Modern will draw on this unique resource to present a visual history of Russia from the turn of the twentieth century to Stalin's death. Published to accompany the exhibition, this accessible and highly illustrated publication features key pieces from the collection, accompanied by short explanatory texts.
Natalia Sidlina is Research Curator, Russian Art at Tate Modern. Matthew Gale is Head of Displays at Tate Modern.