Monday, August 20, 2007

Spiritual leaders of the Soviets!

Courageously and irresistibly we fight and stab,
We are Suvorov’s grandchildren and Chapaev’s sons.
Kukryniksy, 1941

Here is a good one. This poster is dated 1941, when the Fascist Germany was attacking Soviet Union, and the Russians could hardly stop the offensive.

Joseph Stalin quickly realized the propaganda potential of cinema. He personally supervised all the movies, which were produced in the country. In the late thirties the chances of war were high and Stalin ordered a number of large-scale movies based on historical events to be filmed. Among them there were three keystone biopics, which rapidly became part of Russian culture.

Alexander Nevsky” (1938) - a masterpiece created by Sergei Eisenstein (a revolutionary Soviet film director and film theorist) was about Alexander Nevsky - a talented medieval Russian military leader and politician, who managed to smash well equipped German invaders in 1242 at The Battle of the Ice.

“Suvorov” (1941) depicted life of Alexander Suvorov (1729-1800) who was a brilliant Russian general and strategist, reportedly not loosing a single battle.

“Chapaev” (1934) was about Vasily Chapayev – a hero of Russian Civil War, who did a great job of defeating the Whites. Due to this film Chapaev became a cultural phenomenon and a hero of thousands of jokes, which are still popular in Russia.

You can see these three historical figures in red inspiriting soviet soldiers on the poster.

Of course all these historical events were heavily edited to bring forward the main idea: Russian army is truly invincible, guided by “the great helmsman” Joseph Stalin.

The poster was created by a caricaturist group “Kukriniksy”, which were extremely popular in the Soviet Union. “Kukriniksy” is a collective name of three artists – Mikhail Kupriayanov, Porfiri Krylov and Nikolai Sokolov. Their satirical works bashing fascist leaders received international acclaim during the WW2.

P.S. I have just started another poster blog: Posters of Cuba - The Crimson Dawn Island. It will be updated 2 or 3 times a week. You can subscribe here. Cuban posters are not as known as the Soviet or, say, German propaganda, but in no way they are less inspiring. They are bright, colorful, energetic. I am sure you'll like Posters of Cuba project.

And many thanks for coming! It is a pleasure that you all like this beautiful poster art! ;)


Ванчо said...

Is there a chance to get some of these posters in real size, or in print?

Ванчо said...

Ok, never mind, I found it.

Alexander Zakharov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexander Zakharov said...

Yeah try alloposters - there is a link on the page there.

I hope soon i'll have a Soviet Poster online store with the most interesting posters available for sale.

Pam said...

These are great! Thanks for posting.

Caspar said...

Thanks for posting these great posters and the tales behind them. Daily inspiration, oчень хорошо!

jeffen said...

Bloody Brilliant. Keep it up

Pam said...

I'm not seeing the posters you show here on the allposters site. Am I missing something? Is there somewhere else to find them?

Alexander Zakharov said...

Yes, unfortunately, has only a small collection of posters available.

In a month i will have a merchant account at Paypal and will launch an online store.

Thanks for asking and stay tuned ;)

Anonymous said...

you are planning to pay royalties to the original artist's estates, right?

Alexander Zakharov said...

Sure, the royalties will be paid. I won't be printing the posters myself, instead i will buy in bulk from the publisher, who has the rights.

And the quality will be perfect, I promise.

Alexander Zakharov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexander Zakharov said...

Meanwhile, you can check best Soviet poster offers on Ebay. See the ad on the main page. There are some good things there.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how people would react to someone having a blog like this showing propaganda posters from Nazi Germany.. I suspect that it would cause some stirr. But of course The Soviets were much better than those nazi sweinhunds, right?

Alexander Zakharov said...

Was there any irony in you comment Anonimous? Anyway, this is my point:

This is a certain difference between Nazi, Soviet, Chineese posters – the remains of the totalitarian regimes, which in the course of existence took millions of innocent lives.

There are two things. The first one is the main thing actually: I am Russian, and there is one feeling I have to the people that lived in the soviet times – it’s the deepest and infinite gratitude.
Modern Russia owns everything to soviet times - its culture, industry, housing, roads, transportation, etc. Who did all these things? Its my grandmother who in the frosty fourties was building Moscow metro, its both of my grandfathers, who fought Nazis and got wounded several times, its that millions of people who died of the hard work building foundation for the economy. These posters show how common people felt during their lives, and not Stalin, Brezhnev or any other soviet dictator. This is why in no way I will be doing Nazi posters ever – no matter how graphically impressive they are.

And the other thing is history itself. It is just as it is – you can be partial to some periods or personalities, but you can’t deny their existence. Yes, there was Stalin and he did kill millions of innocent people during repressions of the thirties (official data is 3.7 mln repressed, including 900 thousand assassinated, unofficial is 2-5 times more), and yes, the posters of the time did present life in a far more positive manner. I think you have to get on with it – just show Soviet history from the poster point of view. No mourning will help, to my greatest disappointment.

And the third thing is that these posters are just beautiful. They are a great source of inspiration for designers and people, who like art. No denying of that. ;)

Anonymous said...

Well said. People have to be able to analyze these works without being accused of supporting every aspect of the system that produced them.

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