The People's Feat: Monuments of the Great Patriotic War

Discussion in 'Soviet' started by Zoya, Apr 4, 2008.

  1. tovarisch

    tovarisch Discharged

    John Heartfield's work is quite impressive, so to speak. Very moving and brave (in an artistic sense), I don't think there were many artists . I bet there are many more like him out there that we have no idea about. Check out the work of the 'Kukriniksi' group in Soviet Russia. You might like it ;)

    Here's the link - Kukryniksy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (I got the spelling wrong initially)
     
  2. civvie

    civvie Member

    Thanks for this, I've googled Kukryniksy pictures and they are very good propaganda images - real painterly talent tied to singular political purpose. I realize now that I have seen some before in anthologies but had no idea who created them. The satirical 'bite' reminds me of early Brit cartoonists Gilray and Cruickshank whose stuff was really scathing.

    Kukryniksy's - and other Soviet propagandists - balance of art and politics is compelling in another way too: we all know the etiquette of looking at still propaganda images. We know that reality has been re-worked, made stirring, heroic. But today's equivalent propaganda is more troubling. For example the endless imported tv cop shows often stigmatizing Muslim people and cultures have a seamless 'reality' not found in the single images. They have an almost subliminal quality that subverts critical faculties and I can find nothing to admire in such stuff. But I digress.

    I've been looking for ages for some of the images published here in the UK roughly twenty-five years ago in a superb book on Bolshevik propaganda art. It had stuff i've never seen before or since, including pictures of Bolshevik mural newspapers. I didn't (couldn't) buy the book and I haven't seen it sold again...
     
  3. tovarisch

    tovarisch Discharged

    I guess you can't really blame yourself for not being able to purchase it. I myself have seen absolutely brilliant editions of books and encyclopaedias, and just had to let them go, not having enough money or some other lame reason.

    I'd have to agree with you that modern propaganda does not have that balance of art and politics, it's not as compelling and as gripping as it used to be back in the day. Of course, I wasn't around at those times, but I think that I can conduct a comparison between the propaganda we witness today and the propaganda, of, say, the 1940s and 50s. It's not taken seriously nowadays, is it? I mean, a poster in those times had some sort of artistic backing and could be appreciated as a work of art, not as some sort of political lever or manipulation element - in the XXI century it's all down to graphics and cheap slogans, obviously meant to convince or deceive. Pity, really, propaganda was an art form, and what have they done to it now.

    Of course, that's only a subjective look, there's bound to be other ways of appreciating it.

    I must say, British wartime propaganda is something I really appreciate. Especially the 'We Can Do It' poster - that's a particular favourite. I suppose the First World War affected the quality of WWII propaganda, with the Internal Affairs Ministry used to the kind of thing needed in wartime, it was all already in place, as opposed to Soviet war propaganda, which was only gathering steam, having gone through the Revolution and the Civil War, being thrown into the GPW straightaway. But they handled that very well, so I'm told :) The beginning and the end of the War proved excellent backgrounds for propaganda artists to fully realise their potential.
     
  4. civvie

    civvie Member

    Yes, 'We Can do It' has the same seductive quality as Obama's 'Yes We Can' :)

    Here's a link to the WW2's celebrated UK 'Dig for Victory' poster and various derivatives.

    dig for victory poster - Google Search

    I think I can detect a few different roots of its masterly simplicity. One influence is likely to be the documentary work of the US Farms Administration Project photographers - like Dorothea Lang and W Eugene Smith. Another may be more home-grown - photographers like Humphrey Spender were fashioning our own social documentary genre while working for the Mass Observation Project during the 30s. (The public came to be suspicious of the Project during the war, wondering if the staff were government 'spies').

    I'm sure Soviet art and propaganda would have exerted an influence too - a lot of our writers and artists were Socialists or Communists at that time and would have been familiar with their Soviet counterparts work. The governments own General Post Office Film Unit produced some classics of documentary film exalting the work of mail delivery. In short, by the outbreak of war, a lot of artists were almost primed to inflect their reportage with a touch of propaganda resulting in some wholesome and great images.

    I have a few Soviet 'pin' badges commemorating WW2 events - the liberation of Kharkov and a Smolensk Hero City badge amongst them. I can't call them propaganda because the word would seem to diminish the terrible events evoked by the badges. I'll start another thread and post them up. Any thoughts, translations - I don't understand Russian - or similar images would be very welcome!
     

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