Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dummies for all ages!

Never ever better dummies one can hold
Gonna suck them till I’m old.

Sold everywhere.

Mayakovsky V. V., Rodchenko A. M., 1923

This is one of the masterpieces of the era – The Dummies Poster. It was created by Alexander Rodchenko, a brilliant photographer and graphic designer. He is most famous for being one of the founders and apologists of constructivism – an avant-garde art and architecture movement, which denies art for art’s sake and proclaims manufacturing practicability as the basis for creation.

The text was written by Vladimir Mayakovsky – a talented Russian poet, who was one of the most notable representatives of early Futurism. Futurism is all about future – denying past and present, worshiping shoots of aftertime in our lives. Futurists of the early 20th century were discovering new means of self-expression, new techniques and methods to impress, to strike, to startle. In Russian the verse on the poster sounds vigorously and brisk – an unusual way to advertise baby products.

Those two talents worked together in 1923-1928 when Soviet Republic was recovering from WW1 and the Civil War. That period of history was very unstable as the Kronstadt Rebellion of 1921 and other global resistance actions by workers and peasants, provoked by rough communist regime, were destabilizing the country. Famine and shortages were everywhere, unemployment was severe, those who were lucky to have jobs did not care about their duties as it was impossible to convert the pay into goods.

The Communist Party and Vladimir Lenin were forced to give the people a break. The communist ideology remained but small businesses were allowed under control of the state. Farmers could save and trade part of their yield, which was a substantial advantage over War Communism years, when they were forced to give away every single grain – leaving no reserve for seeding. This was the beginning of New Economic Policy (NEP).

Get a hard copy of this poster here!