The twentieth century was shaped by several key global events. One of them – the 1917 October Revolution in Russia – led to the creation of a completely new social structure, government and system of beliefs. The events of the Russian Revolution have been described in many books and portrayed in films but very few documents that bear true witness to this era have managed to carry through the essence of the dramatic changes and immense struggle between the old and the new to today. Posters are one of the few documents that have survived as silent visual yet very vocal witnesses to the events that tore the country in half and led to the formation of the USSR (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics also known as the Soviet Union – Союз Советских Социалистических Республик or СССР). Historic memorabilia from that time is very rare as paper was scarce and, as such, these original posters from the period are highly collectable.
After the October Revolution in 1917, the Bolshevik government was faced with the task of swaying a largely illiterate population to its side in the resulting Russian Civil War and beyond. Posters proved to be an ideal medium to deliver their message using bold and striking designs with minimum text. The imagery clearly distinguished the ‘bad guys’ from the ‘good guys’ and instructed the people on what to do and how to fight the enemy. As the country established itself, poster art grew more sophisticated and the government further developed this means of propaganda art and the print runs increased. Due to this proven effectiveness, the Soviet Union became one of the few countries where artists were specifically trained as poster designers.
The unique combination of striking artwork, powerful imagery and important social history makes these posters of great interest to collectors. A growth in nostalgia and reconciliation with the country’s past is resulting in more demand for high-end posters from the Soviet Union’s early 1917-1939 period as well as the more affordable period from the 1960s to the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
A few of our original vintage Soviet posters will be displayed at the AntikBar gallery from 25 October to 7 November for this centenary and all are available to view online at www.AntikBar.co.uk and at the gallery upon request.