Modern posters have been around since the 1800s, always closely following the prevalent tastes and moods of the society at the time they are made. In fact, often, posters appear at the avant-garde of the coming ebbs of change, be it cultural, physical, or political revolutionary or evolutionary metamorphoses. Among these, Russian posters have one of the most interesting histories behind them, especially the Soviet propaganda posters. This amazingly simple, yet astonishingly effective and powerful propaganda tool was born out of the dark sludge of the Russia’s October Revolution of 1917, which brought about a complete and utter destruction of the existing society and the fast creation of the brand new, highly experimental one that was up for trying anything and everything new, just to see if it will work. This atmosphere, tremendously fertile with creativity, gave birth to the new, spectacular trends in poster art that continue to mesmerize people to this day.
The stunning design, which permeated just about every Soviet poster, did not, however, affect poster production rates. In fact, the first three years after the Revolution saw several thousand new, unique posters, averaging to more than twenty different posters per day, with a printing run of at least several thousand each. Despite this massive production volume, only a small fraction of Russian propaganda posters exist, as they were made solely for the purpose of being posted on walls and poster boards and in everyone’s eyes, had no other uses. This neglect lead to loss and destruction of the majority of the posters, making them extremely scarce and valuable today.
Art historians divide the evolution of Soviet propaganda posters into six distinct periods: Bolshevik (1917 to 1921), NEP (1922 to 1927), first two Five Year Plans (1928 to 1938), World War II (1939 to 1945), and Cold War (1946 to 1984). These periods coincide with the changes in the Soviet political, social, and economic life, chronicling this evolution through, perhaps, the most effective medium of them all, combining unique graphical with powerful written communication, making it possible, even if for only a moment, to get a glimpse at the world the way it was seen by those, who lived in the Soviet Union during each of the six periods.
STPgoods.com and Saint-Petersburg GTH are constantly combing the territory of the former Soviet Union to bring some of the best collections of Soviet propaganda (as well as pre-Soviet) posters to the North American market. Collect them all and relive arguably the most tumultuous years in the long history of this mysterious country, we call Russia.
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