Soviet Posters and the Stories They have to Tell

11.10.2013 Posted in Red Art No Comments

An excellent example of Red Art is the Propaganda poster. The posters were used by the Soviet leaders as visual propaganda of communism. They remained a part of Soviet daily and cultural life until perestroika in the mid-1980s, when they were replaced by regular advertising.

Produced in various quantities between 5.000 and 100.000, the posters often had a short life-span and were later destroyed. Today many have become rare items, and recently collector’s items, sold at  auction houses at prices often largely exceeding the initial estimate. The message and appearance of the poster depended on the changing ideology within the country. Some posters have interesting stories to tell.

Citizens, preserve historical monuments! 1919.

Nikolai Kupreyanov.

Citizens, preserve historical monuments! 1919.

The beginning of the Cultural Revolution caused tremendous damage to buildings, books, and works of art. Thousands of books are lost during the first years of the October Socialist Revolution, burned in the stoves or used as cigarette papers. Untold numbers of monuments and churches were destroyed by the Bolsheviks. This poster, as many others, is an effort to change people’s perception of cultural values of the monarchist, capitalist past. Its aim is to explain the importance of culture as well as the value of knowledge and education.



My happiness depends on your success! 1947.

I. Boym

The duty of every worker, 1930s.

A remarkable poster created at the end of the 1930s, this shows an ideal life that does not yet exist but will come into being in the near future if the Soviet people put more effort into their work. Streets will always be clean, and healthy mothers will give birth to healthy beautiful babies. The slogan of the was time: “Happy people are being born under the Soviet star!” The poster was created during the second or third five-year plans that continued previous economic reforms. During this period, the USSR’s economy was completely transformed. The state planned the entire economy through the State Planning Commission, and many targets which the workers had to meet were set by the government. The poster is also aesthetically significant: it shows one of the first examples of Stalin’s architecture, cars and  fashions of the time, in particular fabrics produced by famous Ivanov factory.



Youth, to the aircrafts!Gustav Klucis.

Young people, to the aircraft! 1934.


The 1931 Komsomol congress decided to make a features of the Soviet airforce. The new slogan “Komsomol—to the aircraft!” called thousands of young women and men to devote their leisure time to flying and parachuting. Posters depicting young pilots became a necessary decoration in factories, kolkhoz administrations, and other places of work. The period 1935–37 produced multiple aviation records and new technical equipment. The country knew about and cherished its heroes; their portraits, names, and deeds appeared on many posters. The aircraft parades during national holidays were remarkable events watched by large crowds of people.



My happiness depends on your success!


Viktor Koretsky

My happiness depends on your success! 1947.


Created by an extraordinary master of photomontage, Viktor Koretsky, this poster is made after World War II. The country needed much reconstruction at this time and required a lot of labor in various areas, thus the need to make this task look like a prestigious and important thing to do. Posters created at the end of the 1940s helped to increase the value and authority of labor. This individualistic portrait of a girl is sincere and captivating. Powerfully designed it shows that any occupation is important and honorable.






Texts – Extracts from the book: Maria Lafont  “Soviet Posters : The Sergo Grigorian Collection”.

All posters  collection of Sergo Grigorian.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: