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.
Posters on the theme of female delegates became popular in the mid-1930s. The woman delegate also became something of an archetype in painting at the same time. In fact, almost all delegates were women and the image of the female came increasingly to represent the stereotypic ‘Soviet citizen’ in visual culture.
This 1936 poster by renowned Georgian poster artist Iraklii Toidze depicts a female delegate from the ‘exotic East’, in at least some elements of traditional dress, addressing a multicultural crowd.
The delegate appears to be speaking in an animated and impassioned manner and the crowd are attentive and appreciative.
In fact, so persuasive is the delegate’s rhetoric that Lenin leans forward out of his picture frame to listen in. Strangely, Stalin leans away from the women.
Although the poster employs an over-used and somewhat hackneyed caption – ‘Under the banner of Lenin, under the leadership of Stalin – forward, to the victory of communism!’ – the visual imagery is distinct and unusual.
The bodily positions of both Lenin and Stalin seem exaggerated, and the direction of the gaze of the three figures in the poster cause the eyes of the viewer to zig zag dramatically through the picture plane.
The poster was published in Moscow and Leningrad in an edition of 100,000 using the rotogravure technique. In rotogravure, an image is engraved onto a cylinder for use in a rotary press. These intaglio cylinders can usually run at high speeds and produce large editions.
Anita Pisch‘s 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.
Visit Anita Pisch’s website at www.anitapisch.com