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September 9, 2011

WAR TIME POSTERS TELL A TALE OF HISOTRY

Filed under: Soviet war time posters — Tags: — jherzlinger @ 11:45 am

I have always adored posters from different eras.  They tell us so much about view points on history.  whether it is war time posters, posters of the Follies Bergere, Posters for French Champagne from the 30′s, they all have a story to tell.  As of late, I have become quite interested in Russian war time posters.  I do hope you enjoy this piece of history!

From 1941 to 1945, artists and writers working for the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union, or TASS, produced a new poster almost every day in an effort to keep Soviet citizens reassured and motivated. The numbered posters, which paired attention-getting images with topical poems and slogans, were tall enough to fill storefronts. Rather than printing them mechanically, the artists of the state news agency hand-stenciled each poster, applying paint instead of ink to produce an eye-grabbing artistic effect and a range of colors that basic lithography couldn’t achieve.

One of the great aesthetic legacies of the Soviet Union is the great wealth of magnificent propaganda posters it left behind.

With the coming of revolution in Russia in 1917, one of the great powers of the world turned abruptly into a regime that embodied ideas that were radically different from those of the established powers of the day. Accompanying a new outlook on politics and economy, there had to be renewal and change in other areas too, including the way the new state presented itself and its ideas.

The revolution coincided with a period of many radically different art forms in western culture, dada, futurism, constructivism, surrealism and so on. Especially in its early years, propaganda posters produced in Soviet Russia were influenced by such movements.

Though the more experimental looks eventually gave way to designs more akin to what could be seen in other western countries, Soviet propaganda still retained a look of its own, beyond the presence of cyrillic lettering.


While battlefield scenes and historical allegories abound, the artists clearly took their greatest pleasure in finding new ways to ridicule Hitler, who appears in dozens of guises. Often he’s an animal—a serpent, rodent, wolf or spider. He appears as a man in sheep’s clothing when peddling insincere peace proposals; he wears a babushka’s kerchief and slippers while fearfully envisioning his impending death.

A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of Communism - 1920

Lenin was known as a great orator, with a fiery style, well illustrated by his stance in this poster, pointing the way ahead. Two important elements of Soviet propaganda can be seen here, the red banner representing the revolution, and the smokestacks representing the industry that will take the new state into a bright future. The text is taken straight out of the introduction of Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto”.


Beat the Whites with the red wedge – 1920

This famous piece by El Lissitzky shows the influence of the new avant garde modernist art movements on early Soviet propaganda. There is in fact a clear political message behind this design. When the revolution took place in Russia in 1917, it did not mean that the Soviet Union with its many components was immediatly formed. A civil war erupted between the communists, the reds, and the royalists supporting the old regime, the whites. With that in mind, this becomes a stylized battle plan for the communist victory, rather than just some abstract geometric design.

Glory be to the people’s heroes from Potemkin - 1920s

The mutiny of the battleship Potemkin in 1905 was later viewed as part of the prologue to the revolution of 1917, and the event was greatly exploited for propaganda purposes, as seen in this very heroic looking poster. What made the Potemkin truly famous, not only in the Soviet Union but also abroad, was the movie “Battleship Potemkin” by Sergei Eisenstein, released in 1925, which is counted among the greatest film classics of all time.

Beware of the wheels! - 1926

Keep your mouth shut! - 1941

This theme can be found in just about any beligerent nation of World War II, such as the “Loose lips sink ships” poster of the United States.

To Defend USSR - 1930

Yet another example of the influence of the modern art movement on Soviet posters, this poster doesn’t even try to look like something out of the real world, with it’s red giant marching past, accompanied by little white airplanes that to me resemble the Canadian airplanes in “South Park”.

With a look that makes you think of the black plague rather than traffic safety, this poster was designed to inform people of the great dangers of a relatively new transportation method that was spreading in Soviet cities; the tram.


Liberated woman – build up socialism! - 1926

Women’s liberation was an important part of the Russian Revolution from its beginning, and boy, does this poster show it! With the confident, stern look of this female worker, there’s no mistaking her ability and will to commit to the revolution. Magnificent!

To Defend USSR - 1930

Yet another example of the influence of the modern art movement on Soviet posters, this poster doesn’t even try to look like something out of the real world, with it’s red giant marching past, accompanied by little white airplanes that to me resemble the Canadian airplanes in “South Park”.

Keep your mouth shut! - 1941

This theme can be found in just about any beligerent nation of World War II, such as the “Loose lips sink ships” poster of the United States.

No! - Unknown year

Alcoholism has been and still is a great problem in Russia. From the view of an industrial society were maintaining and improving efficiency in the factories and farms, alcoholism was a huge drain, ruining the productivity of the state. For the college student, a spoof version of this poster is occasionally available at eBay with the man happily accepting a drink instead of turning it down.

ENJOY!!

LOVE,

JAMIE

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