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 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.
Viktor Deni’s poster of Stalin and Lenin of 1933 is one of three known posters of Stalin of that year with the lengthy caption:
With the banner of Lenin we were victorious in the battle for the October revolution.
With the banner of Lenin we were victorious in attaining decisive achievements in the struggle to build socialism.
With the same banner we will be victorious in our proletarian revolution throughout the world.
The caption is from the Political Report of the Central Committee of the XVI Congress of the CPSU (b) speech delivered by Stalin on June 27, 1930. The other two posters of that year were by well-established artists Gustav Klutsis (stalin poster of the week 111) and emerging artist Iraklii Toidze (spelled Taidze on the poster – see stalin poster of the week 123).
Deni’s poster features sketches of the head of Lenin, and head and neck of Stalin, almost equal in size, on either side of a radio transmitter that broadcasts the words ‘Long live the proletariat revolution of the whole world’, set against a plain backdrop.
The cream background and sketched heads are readily identifiable as Deni’s signature style.
Lenin’s head, sketched in faint tones, seems to float in the picture plane, while Stalin, anchored by his neck and collar and sketched in darker tones, casts a shadow and appears more solid.
Thus, Lenin, already dead for nine years in 1933, is somewhat spectral, while Stalin is ‘fleshier’ and more terrestrial.
Although it is Lenin’s inspiration that is invoked in the text, it is Stalin who invokes it through his quotation. Stalin is depicted as the truest disciple and interpreter of Leninism, carrying on the work of the great revolutionary.
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.
Dr Anita Pisch’s website can be found at www.anitapisch.com