stalin poster of the week 20: boris berezovskii, we stand for peace and we defend the cause of peace. i. stalin, 1947

1947 poster showing Stalin as a man of peace

Boris Berezovskii (Березовский, Б.), We stand for peace and we defend the cause of peace. I. Stalin (Мы стоим за мир и отстаиваем дело мира. И. Сталин), 1947

 

Stalin poster of the week is a weekly excursion into the fascinating world of propaganda posters of Iosif Stalin, leader of the USSR from 1929 until his death in 1953.

Here, Anita Pisch will showcase some of the most interesting Stalin posters, based on extensive research in the archives of the Russian State Library, and analyse what makes these images such successful propaganda.

Anita’s new, fully illustrated book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 -1953, published by ANU Press, is available for free download here, and can also be purchased in hard copy from ANU Press.

 

Once post-Second World War victory celebrations in the USSR had quietened, the task of rebuilding the devastated nation and getting back on track to the ultimate goal of communism moved to the forefront of propaganda.

Alongside this, from 1947, was an attempt to merge Stalin’s Warrior archetype, appropriate for the crisis of the war years, into that of the Saviour of the nation by presenting him as the bringer of peace.

This 1947 poster by Boris Berezovskii shows Stalin uncharacteristically out of military uniform and back in his earlier tunic as he proclaims the Soviet desire for peace — ‘“We stand for peace and we defend the cause of peace.” I. Stalin’.

This quotation is taken from Stalin’s report to the Seventeenth Party Congress on the work of the Central Committee, 26 January 1934, many years prior to the onset of war in Europe, and suggests that Stalin has ALWAYS been a man of peace.

 

Detail of 1947 poster of Stalin by Boris Berezovskii in which Stalin is depicted as a man of peace

A soft, gentle avuncular Stalin in front of a plain red backdrop appears as a man of peace and the saviour of the nation.

 

Stalin appears softer, rounder and more genial than in most of the contemporaneous posters and, by wearing his pre-Victory plain tunic, plays down the Warrior archetype that is so prevalent in other posters of this time.

Engulfed by an undefined red backdrop, and with the poster caption in gold, the Russian Orthodox icon is invoked through colour symbolism, engendering a subconscious association of Stalin with the revered saints of the church for the initiated beholder.

Anita Pisch‘s new book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 – 1953, is now available for free download through ANU Press open access, or to purchase in hard copy for $83. This lavishly illustrated book, featuring reproductions of over 130 posters, examines the way in which Stalin’s image in posters, symbolising the Bolshevik Party, the USSR state, and Bolshevik values and ideology, was used to create legitimacy for the Bolshevik government, to mobilise the population to make great sacrifices in order to industrialise and collectivise rapidly, and later to win the war, and to foster the development of a new type of Soviet person in a new utopian world.

stalin poster of the week 19: we are warmed by stalin’s affection, 1949

Poster of Stalin in Georgian and Russian, 1949

Unidentified artist, We are warmed by Stalin’s affection … (мы сталинской лаской согреты,…) 1949

 

Stalin poster of the week is a weekly excursion into the fascinating world of propaganda posters of Iosif Stalin, leader of the USSR from 1929 until his death in 1953.

Here, Anita Pisch will showcase some of the most interesting Stalin posters, based on extensive research in the archives of the Russian State Library, and analyse what makes these images such successful propaganda.

Anita’s new, fully illustrated book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 -1953, published by ANU Press, is available for free download here, and can also be purchased in hard copy from ANU Press.

In the tradition of deified leaders before him, much Stalinist propaganda associates Stalin with warmth and the sun.  The sun is a recurrent motif throughout propaganda associated with leaders since pre-Christian times, when leaders appealed to their sun gods to look favourably upon their leadership, their battles and their harvests.

Associating a leader with the sun suggests that he is the bringer of life and of bounty to the people. The sun became a central image in Stalinist propaganda, with Stalin unambiguously equated with the sun in poetry and song, while propaganda posters frequently associated Stalin with light in general, as in this  1949 poster by an unidentified artist, ‘We are warmed by Stalin’s affection’.

The poster features a smiling bust of Stalin, with military collar but without cap, surrounded by the smaller heads of 15 children. Beneath Stalin is a laurel wreath that, with his military uniform and the fireworks and searchlights below, makes visual reference to the Soviet Union’s victory in the Great Patriotic War.Stalin was portrayed as being largely responsible for leading the nation to victory in the war.

 

Detail of Stalin poster from 1949

Stalin in military collar and laurel wreath was responsible for leading the USSR to victory in the Great Patriotic War four years earlier

The children in the poster look ethnically Georgian and are encased in flowers, many of their heads appearing to grow out of the petals. The five children at the base of the poster appear to rise up from a bowl of fruit. Fruit, flowers and children all testify to the fertility and abundance of the socialist utopia.

Behind the youngest child, in the centre at the base, the spire of the Spassky tower rises, leading straight to the portrait of Stalin and thus linking the two symbols. Stalin is located at the position of deity, but also appears as the father of the children, a point that has particular resonance because of Stalin’s Georgian roots.

 

Detail of Stalin poster from 1949

This laughing Georgian child is growing out of a flower, symbol of joy, abundance and fertility

Above their heads, but beneath Stalin, fireworks and searchlights illuminate the violet sky. Stalin glows with a white light and, in the heavenly realm that he inhabits, the entire background consists of the white light that emanates from him.

The text of the poster is in Russian and Georgian and celebrates the joys of childhood, sunny Georgia and Stalin:

We are warmed by Stalin’s affection, We carry joy and happiness,

We are sunny Georgian children,

Singing a song to Stalin!’

The text is flanked by scenes of Georgian life — traditional architecture juxtaposed with new construction, and a train rushing through lush fields of crops.

Detail of Stalin poster from 1949

The Kremlin, the Soviet house of worship, links the earthly realm of the children to Stalin, the deity in the sky

Anita Pisch‘s new book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 – 1953, is now available for free download through ANU Press open access, or to purchase in hard copy for $83. This lavishly illustrated book, featuring reproductions of over 130 posters, examines the way in which Stalin’s image in posters, symbolising the Bolshevik Party, the USSR state, and Bolshevik values and ideology, was used to create legitimacy for the Bolshevik government, to mobilise the population to make great sacrifices in order to industrialise and collectivise rapidly, and later to win the war, and to foster the development of a new type of Soviet person in a new utopian world.

stalin poster of the week 18: iraklii toidze, all our forces – to support our heroic red army and our glorious red navy! all the power of the people – to defeat the enemy! stalin, 1941

1941 war poster of Stalin by Iraklii Toidze

Iraklii Toidze (тоидзе, ираклии), All our forces – to support our heroic Red Army and our glorious Red Navy! All the power of the people – to defeat the enemy! I. Stalin. (все наши силы – на поддержку нашей героической красной армии, нашего славного красного флота! все силы народа – на разгром врага! И. Сталин.), 1941

 

Stalin poster of the week is a weekly excursion into the fascinating world of propaganda posters of Iosif Stalin, leader of the USSR from 1929 until his death in 1953.

Here, Anita Pisch will showcase some of the most interesting Stalin posters, based on extensive research in the archives of the Russian State Library, and analyse what makes these images such successful propaganda.

Anita’s new, fully illustrated book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 -1953, published by ANU Press, is available for free download here, and can also be purchased in hard copy from ANU Press.

Iraklii Toidze’s 1941 poster ‘“All our forces — to support our heroic Red Army and our glorious Red Navy! All the power of the people — to defeat the enemy!” Stalin.’ quotes from Stalin’s famous radio address to the Soviet people of July 3, 1941 and shows a determined Stalin striding to the right accompanied by Soviet tanks and aircraft.

 

1941 war poster of Stalin by Iraklii Toidze

Stalin’s outstretched hand and extended finger point the way forward to victory

 

The figure of Stalin forms a curious mixture of motion and stability. His gaze is steady and unflinching. The extended arm, showing the way forward with pointed index finger, is rigid and firm. Stalin is fixated on victory and the strength of his will carries the army and airforce with him.

The force of his forward momentum is revealed by the way in which his coat lapels fly about him, and by the swirling motion of the clouds in the sky. These stormy clouds part above Stalin’s head, suggesting that even the forces of nature bend to Stalin’s will, making way for his unstoppable progress towards victory.

 

Detail of 1941 war poster of Stalin by Iraklii Toidze

Clouds part above Stalin’s head. Even the forces of nature can be bent to his steely will

 

Many posters of this era are captioned with quotes from Stalin, which had become akin to quoting scripture, and the posters are captioned as if these words contain deep wisdom, spiritual guidance, and unimpeachable truth.

Writing in 1942 about Stalin’s speeches during the war thus far, President of the USSR Mikhail Kalinin said:

‘We call these historic speeches not only in the sense that they are documents but because of their influence on our people and on our army. They are speeches that make history.’

Many people, both immediately after the war and today, claim that Stalin’s speeches had a rallying effect on the nation and contributed to the Soviet victory in the Second World War.

 

Detail of 1941 war poster of Stalin by Iraklii Toidze

Stalin’s steely gaze, as presented in propaganda posters, formed an image of determination and strength around which the nation could rally during times of crisis

 

Anita Pisch‘s new book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 – 1953, is now available for free download through ANU Press open access, or to purchase in hard copy for $83. This lavishly illustrated book, featuring reproductions of over 130 posters, examines the way in which Stalin’s image in posters, symbolising the Bolshevik Party, the USSR state, and Bolshevik values and ideology, was used to create legitimacy for the Bolshevik government, to mobilise the population to make great sacrifices in order to industrialise and collectivise rapidly, and later to win the war, and to foster the development of a new type of Soviet person in a new utopian world.

stalin poster of the week 17: marina volkova and natalia pinus, long live the equal-rights woman in the ussr, an active participant in the administration of the nation’s state, economic, and cultural affairs!, 1938

Poster of Stalin supporting equal rights for women in the USSR

Marina Volkova and Natalia Pinus (Марина Волкова и Наталья Пинус), Long Live the Equal-Rights Woman in the USSR, an Active Participant in the Administration of the Nation’s State, Economic, and Cultural Affairs! (да здравствует равноправная женщина СССР! активная участница в управлении государством, хозяйствеными, и культурными делами страны!) ,1938

 

Stalin poster of the week is a weekly excursion into the fascinating world of propaganda posters of Iosif Stalin, leader of the USSR from 1929 until his death in 1953.

Here, Anita Pisch will showcase some of the most interesting Stalin posters, based on extensive research in the archives of the Russian State Library, and analyse what makes these images such successful propaganda.

Anita’s new, fully illustrated book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 -1953, published by ANU Press, is available for free download here, and can also be purchased in hard copy from ANU Press.

The 1938 poster, ‘Long live the equal-rights woman in the USSR, an active participant in the administration of the nation’s state, economic, and cultural affairs!’ was created by two well-established female poster artists, Marina Volkova and Natalia Pinus.

Although the subject of the poster is the new equality of women, as evidenced by high-flying women achievers in state, economic and cultural affairs, it is the figure of Stalin that dominates the poster, occupying two-thirds of the space, engulfed in a sea of holy and revolutionary red.

 

Detail of Stalin poster about the equal rights of women in the USSR in 1938

Although this poster is about Soviet women, Stalin occupies two-thirds of the picture plane

 

The colour red is specifically associated with icons, where it often forms a background colour and represents youth, beauty and eternal life and, in posters, it imbues the figures it surrounds with an aura of sacrality.

The ‘woman delegate’ became something of an archetype in Soviet painting during the mid-1930s. Almost all Soviet delegates were women, and this was part of a trend in which the image of the female came increasingly to represent the stereotypic ‘Soviet citizen’ in visual culture and women were depicted in propaganda and the media submitting to authority figures, learning, and expressing gratitude.

The colour palette of the poster, the use of tone and the flat, stylised image of Stalin, all echo the Russian Orthodox icon. Like a holy personage, Stalin is the source of light in the poster. Dressed in white, with gold tones, he casts a golden hue over the entire poster, including the faces of the young women.

 

Detail of Stalin poster about the equal rights of women in the USSR in 1938

The young female delegates are bathed in Stalin’s golden light

 

The familiar shape of the Spassky tower of the Moscow Kremlin is silhouetted in Stalin’s golden light, rising into empty space to his right, the spire topped with a red star echoes his upraised arm and gesturing golden hand and forms a sort of Soviet house of worship or sacred site.

This poster is manifestly about the new order and the new creation. The new order is symbolised by the sea of red flags on either side of the women, and also by the Kremlin.

 

Detail of Stalin poster about the equal rights of women in the USSR in 1938

This serious young parachutist does not engage the viewer, looking instead to the imminent utopian future

 

It is particularly manifest in the army of modern, professional young women, their ranks receding into the background. Though slim and attractive, there is nothing coy or frivolous about these women. They are allowed, at best, an ambiguous half-smile, and the focus is on their eyes, which do not engage the viewer, but look out of the picture and around the viewer, to the imminent future.

The woman in blue is a parachutist, literally accessing the heavens under the new order. Stalin points upward and out of the picture frame, to the heaven-on-earth of the communist utopia

This poster visually references the colour, tonal qualities and stylised imagery of the Russian Orthodox icon, a visual language with which the Soviet population were familiar, and encourages a subconscious spiritual response to the poster.

Anita Pisch‘s new book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 – 1953, is now available for free download through ANU Press open access, or to purchase in hard copy for $83. This lavishly illustrated book, featuring reproductions of over 130 posters, examines the way in which Stalin’s image in posters, symbolising the Bolshevik Party, the USSR state, and Bolshevik values and ideology, was used to create legitimacy for the Bolshevik government, to mobilise the population to make great sacrifices in order to industrialise and collectivise rapidly, and later to win the war, and to foster the development of a new type of Soviet person in a new utopian world.