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Russian Political Poster of the 1910-150s
From the collection of the State Russian Museum on the centenary of ITAR-TASS

21 June - 06 September 2004
The Benois Wing

The exhibition devoted to the centenary of the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia (ITAR-TASS) will showcase posters created during the period of most dramatic events in the history of Russia of the 20th c. The exhibits illustrate main tendencies and movements in the Russian art of the epoch. The Russian Telegraph Agency (ROST) expressed the views of the Party in its publications. This is why its activities turned to be closely connected with the development of political poster during the WW1, the Civil War and the Great Patriotic War. The history of political poster in Russia starts in the 20th c. The oldest among the ones exhibited were printed in the beginning of WW1 by Moscow publishers Segodniashny Lubok (Lubok of Today). There worked young avant-garde artists - Kasimir Malevich, Aristarkh Lentulov, Ilia Mashkov and others - who used the tradition of the folk picture in their satirical compositions. The famous Okna satiry ROSTA (ROSTA's satire windows) were one of the most interesting phenomenon in the Revolutionary art of propaganda. These were created by artists and poets who worked for Russian Telegraph Agency (ROSTA). Posters created by members of Petrograd department are especially valuable, since every sheet is unique - Petrograd posters were made in linocut technique (in Moscow stencils were used) and coloured manually. Artistic language of the posters made in the post-revolutionary decade conveys those very different and multiple processes which existed in the national art of the period. Expressive works by Dmitry Moor (Orlov), usually with a touch of grotesque; satiric and genre posters by Victor Deni; works of Sergei Chekhonin, a member of the World of Art association, belong to classics of the Soviet poster. In the 1920s, Alexander Samokhvalov created his posters. Complicated photomontages of Gustav Klutsis, created in the late 1920s - 1930s, are one of the best examples of the world polygraphy. In 1932, as a result of the Central Committee of C.P.S.U. (B.) Politburo decree "On realignment of literary and art organisations" the Soviet art becomes more and more regulated, the concept of Social Realism is formed, the fight with Formalism begins. Posters, which are meant to bring people optimism, become a certain distillation of vivid happiness canvassing. The art of poster becomes especially important in the years of the Great Patriotic War. Posters with appeals full with determination and will to win are clear and convincing. Satiric posters with invaders in a cartoon, brutish images were very popular, too. Issues of Militant Pencil and ROSTA's Windows were created by the artists of the sieged Leningrad - Ivan Astapov, Vladimir Galba, Valentin Kudrov, Vladimir Serov, Nikolai Tyrsa and many others. A number of issues are based on in-situ sketches made on the front line and in guerrilla troops. Political posters of the late 1940s - 1950s are filled with optimistic pathetic elements. They feature a sort of gallery of "ideal heroes": courageous warriors, conscientious workers and farmers, touching children, and happy Soviet women. Nowadays, the slogans and ideology of the Soviet posters are no more topical. However, these posters are not only some reminders of our history. Artistic achievements of the artists and the bright, emotional images they created are a significant part of the Russian artistic culture of the 20th c.