While a little-used storage closet was being cleared out in preparation for a major renovation of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Prints and Drawings in the late 1990s, a trough-like space was discovered, previously hidden behind containers. Haphazardly stored were two thick rolls and twenty-six Kraft-paper parcels containing posters by European and American artists spanning the late 1880s to the 1940s, only some of which had been accessioned. Among these were 157 window posters, produced by the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS) between 1941 and 1945. They had been sent to the Art Institute during the War by the Soviet-based Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (VOKS).
After conservation and research, these TASS posters formed the basis of a major exhibition at the Art Institute (closed 23rd October), supplemented by an extensive online display that included hundreds of additional works of art not featured in the exhibition. The publication under review is the catalogue to this exhibition and the most authoritative text in the English language on TASS posters and their international distribution by VOKS during the Second World War.
Anne Blood is Assistant Editor at The Burlington Magazine, the world’s leading monthly publication devoted to the fine and decorative arts.
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