Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Monumental Power!

Moscow is the capital of the USSR
El Lissitzky, 1940

What an absolutely brilliant poster it is! It was created by El Lissitzky, who was one of the originators of Suprematism movement along with Kazimir Malevich. Lissitzky’s genius was versatile, as during his life time he managed to work and explore the boundaries of art in graphics design, photography, architecture, typographics using a wide range of techniques and methods. Here is his “Beat the Whites with Red Wedge” masterpiece.

This very poster has a quotation of Vyacheslav Molotov – one of the leading soviet politicians and diplomats of the Stalin era. He managed to live through repressions of the thirties, late forties and fifties and was dismissed from Politburo only in 1957, four years after Stalin’s death. He is most known for the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed between Soviet Union and Germany in 1939, which not only declared non-aggression between the two countries, but also contained the secret protocols, which stipulated division of several independent countries of Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania between Soviet Union and Germany.

Despite the Pact, Soviet Union was quite aware of the Nazi Germany’s plans to invade the country – after crushing France and invading Denmark and Norway the attack on the Soviets was obvious.

So the quote says: “Look how peacefully the five point stars of Kremlin glow! Look how far its clear light shines!
…But in case of armed assault on the Soviet Union the offender will experience not only all the iron might of our self-defense but also the power of ruby stars, which glare well beyond the boundaries of our Motherland”.

The photomontage poster shows a Kremlin panorama with the accented Red Stars on its towers. The perspective has nothing to do with the real map of Moscow. Marching people are holding red stars and Stalin’s pictures. The foreground is occupied by a giant statue of a man holding a red star in a heroic gesture.

This is a statue from the Soviet Union’s exposition at the New York World's Fair of 1939-1940. Russian pavilion and the statue at the entrance was designed by Boris Iofan – a Soviet architect, who was most known for his project of Palace of Soviets – an enormous building, which was to be erected at the place of Cathedral of Christ the Savior, demolished by Bolsheviks.

All the symbols on the poster make sense – the Red stars, being the symbol of Communism, are embedded into the heart of Soviet Union, which is Moscow. They belong here, but the proud Soviets are carrying their light abroad – and the statue, which for two years had been displayed in New York at the Fair, signifies it. All celebrates the greatness of the Soviet Union.

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