Saturday, 25 August 2007

USSR Posters part II

So here we are again, with three images from 1920. First up, Lenin proclaims that the spirit is stalking Europe, the spirit of Communism:

I really like the composition of this image, with the strong diagonal of Lenin and the flag behind him set against the upright of the factory chimney. On the other hand, I don't like the overly cramped and bizarrely arranged typesetting much. Anyone got an explanation for the floral emblem on the red flag?

This next poster is rather splendid and perhaps should be put up in the teaching rooms of all educationalists. AN ILLITERATE MAN IS A BLIND MAN, it proclaims.


The colours make me think of today's Russian flag and the stylised clouds, together with the patterned border, somehow evoke a fairy tale illustration. Together with the traditional style of dress worn by the blindfold man, they lead my mind to the wonderful folkloric tradition of Russia and eastern Europe, which I know only from collections of children's tales (not least the very wonderful Old Peter's Russian Tales by Arthur Ransome, which volume I have tucked away somewhere, doubtless in a box in storage. Gosh, the terrible inconvenience of separation from one's books.) On a sartorial note, check out those patterned trousers. Lordy.

Finally, we get the Russian Civil War's own version of the famous Kitchener recruiting poster from 1914.


The message asks, have you volunteered? Unlike the Kitchener original, or the 1917 Uncle Sam version (which was re-used in the Second World War also) here the interlocutor is a comrade, not a superior or a national icon.


There's a lot more going on in this Russian version than in either of the originals, too. It's a less clean and decisive image, and the billowing clouds of smoke are frankly ominous: neither of the versions on the left suggest what it is exactly that the act of joining up entails, perhaps wisely.

Nonetheless I like the - once again - restrained colours and stylised graphic impact of the Russian image, especially the factory silhouetted against the sky and the glimpses through its windows. I'm not sure how military an image it is, mind.

3 comments:

Paul de Man said...

Love, I hate to lower the tone, but needs must. Please to check out:

Mad TV's "Trapped in the Cupboard": http://youtube.com/watch?v=7putw2A4FiI
Weird Al Yankovich's "Trapped in the Drive Thru":
http://youtube.com/watch?v=qmGVYki-oyQ
and, best of all, Zlad's "I am the anti-Pope":
http://youtube.com/watch?v=-njOy0AxwNs

mattcr said...

fantastic trousers...

those recruitment posters are fascinating

kitchener has the air of someone who's looked up and down a line of a thousand men and picked out nine hundred and ninety nine of them whereas the US one is far more flattering, as if uncle sam has picked you out and you alone. something to do with the difference in the pointing arm, and the thoughtful look in his eyes

can't say i like the russian one much, the delineation between the figure and the background seems terribly messy. plus he looks like he's just found you cowering behind a bush and hoping nobody would spot you until about 1989

Spangly Princess said...

haha yes the Russian guy is more reproachful, even angry. not just have you volunteered yet, but why the bloody hell not?