Visions of utopia: Soviet posters of the 1920s and 1930s

Unique collection of Soviet propaganda posters is now on display at Pushkin House

November 18, 2013 · 3 min read

PO049 (web)

For the first time in over eighty years, part of a unique archive of Soviet propaganda posters is on display at Pushkin House. Featuring work by designers such as Daniil Cherkes, Yakov Guminer, Gustav Klutsis and Mikhail Taranov, Visions of Utopia presents heroic depictions of soldiers and workers, men and women, building the Soviet Socialist dream.

Team-curated by Jane Powell, Grant Pooke and Elena Zaytseva, the exhibition of twenty five works is a collaborative venture between the  Marx Memorial Library (which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year), the University of Kent’s School of Arts and Pushkin House.

This exhibition presents Soviet posters of the first two decades following the October Revolution – an era driven by the utopian impulse that a new society and a new world could be created from the ruins of Tsarist Russia. Yet as post-revolutionary Russian society rapidly transformed so to did the character of utopia and the posters in the exhibition explicitly show the transition to dystopia in this period.

The posters displayed form a fractional part of a far larger collection of Soviet, Comintern and Cold War posters which belong to the Marx Library in Clerkenwell. Many were spirited out of the Soviet Union in the 1930s and 1940s by political delegations, visitors and couriers who travelled between the Library and the Soviet Union on fact finding missions or Communist Party business. Until they were re-discovered in a London warehouse by a former Director of Archives at the Marx Library and catalogued as part of a recent Leverhulme-funded project organised in collaboration with the University of Kent, the unique collection had been all but forgotten.

Visions of Utopia is hosted by Pushkin House (5a Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2TA) and is open to the public until December 5th. The exhibition will also feature a number of lectures and a closing panel discussion.

Tuesday, 19th November, 19.30 – Lecture by Natalia Murrey: The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the quest for the new art. The Proletarian Art Enigma.

Wednesday, 27th November, 19.30 – Lecture by professor Christina Lodder: The Communist Vision of Gustavs Klucis.

Wednesday, 4th December, 19.30 – Panel discussion with John Callow (chair), Jane Powell, Grant Pooke, Tatiana Baskakova, Elena Zaytseva: Two Decades of October Revolution: from Utopian Dreams to Utopian Visions.

For more information visit the Pushkin House website.

PO129 (web)

PO011(web)

 


Now is the time to rise up for Rojava

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been betrayed by the US, giving the Turkish state a green light to carry out atrocities in Northern Syria, writes Amber Huff and Patrick Huff

The NHS has become complicit in the exploitation of migrant workers

As a wave of strikes is planned across London, Petros Elia – an organiser with the United Voices of the World Union, outlines racist outsourcing practices that implicate some of our biggest ‘socially responsible’ employers

Global Justice Rebellion activists

It’s time to add global justice to XR’s demands

Extinction Rebellion must recognise the impacts of colonialism and capitalism, and demand a just transition for all, argues Aranyo Aarjan


Political discourse can be deadly

As long as our politicians feed, rather than challenge, racism, the most marginal in our societies will continue to be at risk, argues Remi Joseph-Salisbury

The battle for England’s waterways

Nick Hayes on the fight for riparian rights, with anglers and kayakers as its focal point

Pride in an Irish border town

This summer, Irish LGBTQ campaigner Joseph Healy joined the Pride march in his home town of Newry. Here, he explains how life on the border has changed - and the stakes of Brexit installing a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic


Are community land trusts a way out of the system?

People are taking charge of land and housing across the UK, posing an alternative to the commercial market. But is it enough? Hazel Sheffield reports