Soviet propaganda posters traded exclusively in the imagery of an imagined future. Vibrant posters with messages of hope, unity and friendship provided encouragement to the everyday worker.
The circus was the peoples’ entertainment. Unlike the ballet, it was accessible. Tickets were just a few dollars. Posters advertising performances were characterised by bold colours and striking typography.
In the 1890s, Russia created the first nature sanctuaries in the world. Beside public policy, striking propaganda posters were commissioned to remind people that ‘April is the month of cleanliness’.
Space was the dramatic arena for an ideological struggle between Communism and Capitalism. The USSR understood the power of image. Sputnik, space and cosmonauts were central motifs in propaganda posters.
The artists behind the Polish School of Posters were commissioned by the state to create film & propaganda posters. Given a broadly ‘anti-western’ brief, the resulting artworks were intensely aesthetic.
In the USSR, healthcare was especially important. The population needed to be strong and healthy so that the Socialist utopia could be realised. Propaganda posters encouraged people to stay healthy.
The USSR and the USA both considered the other to be the aggressor.Artists were employed to create posters that advocated for the peaceful exploration of outer space or peace to the children of the world.
The Olympics were a chance for the USSR to outshine their Cold War rival. The real winner was art. Some of the most striking posters ever produced come from the design competition held to promote the Games.
Soviet artists treated typography as a visual element in and of itself. It communicated, engaged and entertained. Artists manipulated type and placement to emphasise a message in Soviet poster design.
The Soviet Union was the first country in the world to give women the same marital rights as their husbands. They were celebrated as equals in Soviet art, working alongside men in the fields and factories.
Poor safety standards and a largely illiterate population meant workplace accidents were commonplace. The state commissioned artists to create visual and often violent safety posters for the walls of factories.
Tierpark was created by the East German state as a rival to the famous West Berlin Zoological Gardens. East German artists created advertising posters of the more than 120 species at the newly opened park.
Theatre was controlled by the Soviet state. It wasn’t just entertainment, it taught the audience to think, and to read between the lines. Theatre posters are characterised by bright colours and an aesthetic playfulness.
Young Pioneers were the Soviet’s answer to the Boy Scouts of America. But, they were much more political. Millions of posters with bright colours and simple slogans were created to remind children to be good Socialists.
Sometimes one poster wasn’t enough to communicate a message. Soviet artists regularly created diptychs and triptychs more than two metres in length to be hung on the walls of factories and government buildings.
The Soviet state turned art into a production line in the service of a promised Socialist utopia. Most preliminary sketches and stencils were thrown out after designs were created. The ones that survive today are rare, and highly sought after.