Thursday, November 19, 2009

Czar Alexander II, "loosening the bonds of twenty millions of men", too little, too late...

Czar Alexander II (1818-1881). The Romanoff's days were numbered. Czar Alexander II of Russia Here is a brief fourteen-year look at emerging communist Russia through the government's poster-art propaganda of the day... (glossing over enormous pain inflicted upon the people)
Proletarians of all countries, unite! (Lithography, 97x69.5 cm., BG L3/208) Dimitry Moor, 1919. Soldier, farmer and worker: the new rulers. The text at the top, 'Proletarians of all countries, unite', is taken from the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1848). The emblem of a hammer and a plough, in the red star at the centre above, is soon replaced by the familiar hammer and sickle. A general military training is a safeguard for freedom Publisher: Vsebovuch, Moscow. Designer unknown, 1919 (Lithography, 110.5x74.5 cm., BG L3/210) In the years following 1917, the Soviet Union is torn by a bloody civil war between the 'Reds' (the communists) and the 'Whites'. This poster calls for the farmers to fight on the side of the Reds.
Long live the Red Army Publisher: Revvoensovet, Moscow. Nikolay Kochergin, 1920 (Lithography, 71x105 cm., BG E11/910) Trampled beneath the feet of the Red Army are the defeated White generals and the idol of Mammon, symbol of capitalism.
Your enemies want to send you to war against me, your brother, by deceit and intimidation. Do not listen to them! If you want peace and freedom, take up your rifle with me and beat your enemies. Publisher: Revvoensovet, Moscow. Nikolay Kogout, 1920 (Lithography, 83x60 cm., BG E11/737) Poster with text in Tatar, meant for distribution in the Crimea. The Tatars are to fight on the Red side against the White generals Vrangel and Joffre, who are pictured as the accomplices of bourgeoisie and capitalism.
Capital Viktor Deni, 1919. (Lithography, 51.5x36 cm., BG D23/103) Capital as the source of all evil. Under the image a satirical poem by Demjan Bedny. The red text on the left states that damaging the poster or pasting another one over it is a counter-revolutionary crime.
Capital: I will crush Soviet Russia in my fist!!! But... it only clenches its fist in impotent anger! Publisher: Zapasnaja Armija Respubliki, KazanViktor Deni, 1920 (Lithography, 70.5x54 cm., BG E11/747) The red flag in the left image says 'Soviet Russia', the flags in the right image 'Soviet'. Women, adhere to the cooperation Publisher: All-Russian Central Union of Consumer Cooperations. I. Nivinskii, 1917 (Lithography, 71x52.5 cm., BG E5/499) A poster issued only one or two months after the Bolshevik takeover. The image is traditional, the typography unsophisticated, but the composition and the deep, contrasting colours lend this poster great charm.
What the October Revolution has given to working and peasant women
Publisher: Gosizdat, Moscow 1920 (Lithography, 106x73 cm., BG L3/212) The woman gestures towards a library, a mensa, a workers club, a school for adults and a 'house of mother and child'. The 'October Revolution' is nowadays usually referred to as the November Revolution, due to differences in calendar systems. Literacy is the path to communism Publisher: Gosizdat, Moscow 1920 (Lithography, 72x54 cm., BG E11/746) In its first years, the communist regime organizes extensive campaigns to combat illiteracy. This poster uses the classical symbol of the winged horse Pegasus as distributor of knowledge. The text in the book reads 'Proletarians of all countries ...'
The life of the illiterate - The life of the literate Publisher: Gosizdat, Petersburg, Aleksei Radakov, 1920 (Lithography, 51x68 cm., BG E11/742) The illiterate farmer, on top, has a poor harvest. His cow dies, he does not know the way in town and dies in poverty, leaving a young child. The literate farmer has read how to improve his harvest and knows where to buy a good cow. When he dies, his son is older and able to take over. Towards the collective Publisher: AChR, Moscow. S. Mirzoyan, A. Ivanov, 1929 (Lithography, 71x107cm., BG E5/542) The collectivization of agriculture means the forced merging of small private farms into large state enterprises. Here, the private farmer is pictured as a rich saboteur, jealous of the abundant harvest of the colelctive farm. In reality, rich farmers had already been disposed of. The remaining private farms were small, owned by poor peasants. The forced collectivization caused severe food shortages for years and years. Cultivate vegetables! Publisher: AChR, Moscow. A. Kuznetsova, A. Magitson, ca. 1930 (Lithography, 101.5x71 cm., BG L3/207) Workers are encouraged to cultivate vegetables near factories. On the poster, a realistic still life is combined with a modern constructivist background. It is issued by the publishing company of AChR, the Association of Revolutionary Artists. This organization is the main promotor of Socialist Realism and develops a stranglehold on the visual arts. Help build the gigantic factories Publisher: AChR, Moscow. S. Mirzoyan, A. Ivanov, 1929 (Lithography, 111.5x80 cm., BG G1/231) The first Five Year Plan aims to build up heavy industry from virtually nothing. This poster advertizes a state loan for the building of large factories.
The USSR is the crack brigade of the world proletariat Publisher: Izogiz, Moscow/Leningrad. GustavKlutsis, 1931 (Lithography, 142x103 cm., BG E12/678-9, coll. Rose) One of Klutsis' most famous photomontages. With the heavily emphasized diagonal, the dynamic composition and the strong contrasts, this poster is one of the classics of Constructivism. The first impression of 30.000 copies had a selling price of 80 copecks, which is next to nothing. The estimated market value of a copy in good condition nowadays is over $ 10.000.
Let's send millions of qualified worker cadres to the 518 new factories and production units Publisher: Ogiz-Izogiz, Moscow/Leningrad. Gustav Klotsis, 1931 (Lithography, 143.5x103 cm., BG M3/131) The often forced employment in the new factories in Siberia and other remote areas is pictured as a matter of voluntary enthousiasm. The parade of workers swings through the picture plane, bringing about a splendid spatial effect. In the lower right corner small text is printed, encouraging people to send comments on this poster to the publisher. Given the political climate of these years, this has more to do with enforcing ever stricter political discipline than with stimulating an open debate.
Civilized life - productive work Publisher: Ogiz-Izogiz, Moscow/Leningrad. Gustav Klotsis, 1932 (Lithography, 141x101 cm., BG E12/680-1) The message of this poster is directed to members of Komsomol, the communist youth organization. They have to set an example of civilized living and productive working. The composition is flatter, more 'socialist-realist' than Klutsis' earlier work. Klutsis has to comply with ever stricter artistic regulations.
Female delegate, stand to the fore! Publisher: Ogiz-Izogiz, Moscow/Leningrad. Brigade KGK, 1931 (Lithography, 99x69 cm., BG E5/578, coll. Rose) Poster directed at women farmers, delegated to the meeting of 'the crack brigade of forewomen of Sots-Stroitelstva' [something like 'the construction of socialism'], where discussions are to be held concerning 'the realization of full collectivization and the liquidation of the kulaks [private farmers] as a class'. Packed in an avant garde design, the political jargon of the poster is stifling.
Metropolitan Publisher: Izogiz, Moscow, Nikolay Dolgorukov, 1931 (Lithography, 73x101.5 cm., BG E5/580, coll. Rose) In 1931, the Central Committe of the Communist Party decides to the building a subway system in Moscow. This becomes a prestige project for which no pain nor expense is spared. The first line is opened for the public in 1935. On the poster, the chaos of traffic in the old center of Moscow in the photomontage left is contrasted with the spaciousness and efficiency in the large drawing. Bold contrasts such as these are the trademark of designer Dolgorukov. For the society's food supply - bolshevist tempo and high quality Publisher: Ogiz-Izogiz, Moscow/Leningrad. Ogarkov and Lyubimov, 1931 (Lithography, 104.5x71 cm., BG E5/587, coll. Rose) The quality of food and service in communal eating houses and canteens is denounced in this unusually explicit poster. Even the 'completely unacceptable sanitary conditions' in some establishments are mentioned.
Let's consolidate the victory of socialism in the USSR! Let's technically reconstruct the country's economy! Publisher: Ogiz-Izogiz, Moscow/Leningrad. Konstantin Vyalov, 1932 (Lithography, 90x120 cm., BG E12/682-3) Idealized workers and idyllic scenes from agriculture and industry: the influence of socialist realism is evident. The overall composition however owes much to the constructivist photomontages. The giants of the Five Year Plan Publisher: Ogiz-Lenizogiz, Leningrad. G. Brylov, 1933 (Lithography, 70x1005. cm., BG E5/597, coll. Rose) Stalin towers over the great works of the Five Year Plan, such as the dam in the river Dnepr and the industrial complexes in Magnitogorsk and Stalinsk. Working conditions on these projects are terrible, and large numbers of political prisoners do forced labour. The quote from Stalin above reads: 'The results of the Five Year Plan show that the working class is not only capable of destroying the old, but also of building the new'.
IISH To see more posters click on this link:

No comments:

Post a Comment