Today, on May 1, The Labour Day, I would like to write one more time about my recent book the Soviet Posters: Pull-Out Edition, published by Prestel earlier this year. Beautifully edited, this large-format book of Soviet propaganda posters allows the reader to remove individual posters and is at once a revealing historical document and a sublime example of graphic art at its best. Each poster has a story to tell:
Artist: Petrizky A.
Title: Keep Your Revolutionary Step, a Restless Enemy Does Not Sleep
This beautiful and colourful avant-garde poster dates from during the civil war. A soldier marches through the streets with the crown and sceptre of the Tsar under his feet, symbolising the fall of the imperial regime, while the red star with a hammer and sickle, symbolising Communism, is pictured shining high in the sky. The title of the poster, Keep Your Revolutionary Step, a Restless Enemy Does Not Sleep, comes from the poem The Twelve by Aleksandr Blok. Composed by Blok in cold and hungry revolutionary Petrograd, it tells of twelve soldiers, who symbolise the twelve apostles, marching in snow through the windy city. The poem praises the revolution and denounces the bourgeois past. Within a few years of writing the poem, Blok had become disillusioned with the Revolution; gravely ill, forbidden by Lenin from leaving the country and without any means of making a living, he died in 1921.
Artist: Gurary S.M., Kershin Y.V.
Title: Khrushchev and Fidel
Produced a year after the Cuban missile crisis, during which Fidel Castro and Nikita Krushchev secretly agreed to place Soviet missiles aimed at the U.S.A.A. on Cuba. The poster depicts the Cuban-Soviet friendship. The poster serves a number of purposes, on one hand it emphasises the importance of Cuba as an important partner in international politics, and on the other it reminds Russian workers that Communism is present in all parts of the world and that Russia is not alone. The 1960s were a time of economic stagnation in Russia. The country lacked food and basic necessities; people had stopped believing in the imminent victory of Communism across the world and in their own country’s prosperity. The artist depicted both leaders enthusiastically greeting their nations with their flags in the background, as though encouraging the disillusioned proletariat.
Artist: Medvedev V.
Title: Happy XXX Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution!
A celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the revolution, this poster contains the main symbols of revolutionary Russia – an impressive statue of Lenin looms large in the centre while a banner of Stalin flies overhead, one of the Kremlin towers stands on the right and the cruiser Aurora lights the scene from below. The Kremlin symbolises Moscow – the capital of Russia – and the Aurora had become an icon of the revolution: on 25th October 1917 at 9.45 pm, its sailors fired a blank shot from its forecastle gun, signalling the start of the assault on the Winter Palace, the residence of the Russian Tsars, and marking the beginning of the October Revolution. The cruiser was quickly turned into a museum, which people were obliged to visit during official tours of Saint Petersburg, and was commemorated in numerous songs, films and literature.
Hope you will enjoy reading the book!
*Thank you Sue-Mae Khoo for the pictures