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Four short links: Soviet posters

Soviet poster art was truly remarkable, and some amazing examples are available on the internet. My favourite sites are:

1) Plakaty.ru. A huge gallery with a wide range of subjects, from military to entertainment and advertising, including this one from the propaganda section, which reads: ‘Stalin’s mood makes our army and country strong and solid!’ If you had to choose a single site on this subject, this would be it. I’ve been browsing it intermittently for a while now, and I know there is still a lot I haven’t seen. I suspect some other poster sites take their material from here. The ones that do so are in many ways more manageable, so they’re still worth a look.



2. Duke University Library’s russian poster collection. A comparatively small but perfectly formed collection. It features political posters from the early Soviet era that are essentially typical, but actually they represent relatively unusual examples – quite a lot of them I’d never seen before. There are also glasnost’-era posters, and, perhaps most strikingly, a series of statistical posters from the 22nd Communist Party Congress, 1960-62, including this one, showing numbers of delegates and party members. If socialist realist pie charts and bar graphs float your boat, this is definitely the place to come.


 3. Soviet space programme propaganda posters, a recent post on The A Word. Contains some images that are stunning by any measure, and generally easier to like because they celebrate a positive Soviet achievement, and they’re not associated with Stalinism. That said, I think I particularly like this one, ‘In the name of peace’, because it adopts the image of Mat’-rodina (the motherland personified) that features in so much earlier Soviet poster art.



4. The Museum of Anti-Alcohol Posters. The apparently endless Soviet battle against excessive alcohol consumption (‘The enemy of production’, as this one states) is celebrated in this great series of posters.They’re quite varied in terms of the harmful effects (physical, social etc) they highlight, but frankly while other types of poster campaign may have had the desired effect, the Soviet attachment to vodka seems to have  outweighed any attempts to propagandize it away.



Finally, a couple of honourable mentions: Soviet movie posters by the Sternberg brothers, currently the subject of an exhibition at a New york gallery, Theatre posters by Nikolai Akimov, on the sadly no longer active Ephemera Assemblyman blog, and Soviet World War II posters, from an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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1 Comment

  1. Martin Barlow

     /  August 27, 2011

    Great links and yes, how remarkable Soviet posters were as an art form, whatever one thinks of the politics they propagandised. My interest was stimulated when I was given David King’s ‘Red Star Over Russia’ (published by Tate) last Christmas, as there are some great ones in there and some of the posters from the Central Asian and Caucasus republics are especially interesting seen in relation to the Russian ones. I also caught the exhibition of them at Tate Modern a few months ago (now finished). It reminded me that back in 1973-74 I had the job of making the posters for the Socialist Society at SOAS (all of half a dozen members as I recall), and the Soviet-poster aesthetic was still there in its some form!

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